After announcing drastic cuts to its service and routes, along with temporary layoffs affecting approximately 1,400 employees, BC Ferries is now rescinding those layoff notices and working to get clarity on whether it is eligible for the federal government’s wage subsidy program to help pay its regular workers.
On Tuesday, BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall told Daily Hive that the “rescission of layoff notices has proceeded as an act of company support for our valuable employees at this uncertain time.”
Unfortunately, for casual employees, “there is little work due to the pandemic and the reduction in traffic,” said Marshall. “These employees will be eligible to apply for CERB or EI.”
Employees were notified of the decision to rescind layoffs via a company memo from BC Ferries CEO Mark Collins.
However, since Collins’ memo was written, “the federal legislation has been passed and our eligibility is unclear,” said Marshall.
She added that the company will continue to work with federal authorities to clarify, but added this will “likely be unclear for days to come.”
On April 4, BC Ferries suspended its Horseshoe Bay – Nanaimo service “until further notice,” noting that this route “carries much less commercial traffic than the other two routes connecting Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island.”
In the memo to employees, Collins wrote that the company has “been working steadily for the past couple of weeks with federal officials, and while not yet confirmed, we are hopeful that BC Ferries will qualify for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program.”
By taking advantage of the subsidy, he wrote, “we can put hundreds of our people back on the payroll.”
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And while the subsidy “allows us to keep more of our skilled co-workers employed, it doesn’t mean everyone will be able to resume their regular duties,” he warns. “Service changes made to support the health and wellness of our crews and communities have been dramatic, and as a result, there may not be enough work for everyone to do.”
In the meantime, “there are still many details to work out, but I want to assure you that we are doing everything we can to support all members of the BC Ferries family during these uncertain times.”