BC Ferries warns of ongoing COVID-19 related staff shortages

Jan 17 2022, 6:39 pm

It could be rough seas ahead for BC Ferries as it navigates staffing their sailings during the Omicron COVID-19 wave.

“We definitely advise passengers to check on the status of sailings ahead of times,” BC Ferries rep Dan McIntosh told Daily Hive.

“We will send out service notices whenever sailings have been cancelled,” he said. All service notices are also posted online.

In recent weeks, BC Ferries has already had to cancel sailings due to staff shortages. Now, the company says it’s expecting potential service disruptions in the coming months.

“BC Ferries is anticipating that a combination of issues may result in unplanned service disruptions on all routes, and particularly on inter-island routes, over the coming months,” said BC Ferries in a January 10 release.

BC Ferries says it can’t point the finger at one particular cause of the staffing concerns. Even if a small number of crew aren’t available to sail, it can have a big impact on service if replacements are hard to find.

“It is a combination, including the Omicron variant’s potential to impact employee wellness, regular cold and flu season, severe winter storms, vaccination policies that have reduced crew availability and the global shortage of professional mariners making it difficult to hire replacement staff.”

More importantly, the staff shortages could make it harder to get a White Spot burger on your next sailing.

“We will do everything to maintain our full complement of services, but depending on which staff may be missing during a particular shift the next steps are to scale back some of the services we offer onboard without compromising customer safety,” said McIntosh.

“While we want to offer the full range of services, the primary objective is to keep the ships sailing, and BC Ferries will make whatever accommodations it can to keep people moving,” he said.

Many essential workers have had to stay home and isolate themselves during BC’s Omicron COVID-19 wave because they have been symptomatic.

BC was warned by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry that Omicron would have the potential to cause staff shortages and asked businesses to create contingency plans in the event that one-third of their workers were out sick.

With files from Megan Devlin

Sarah AndersonSarah Anderson

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