VANCOUVER — A BC Ferries spokesman is encouraging passengers to check online for possible service disruptions before heading to a terminal.
Dan McIntosh says several factors could lead to sailing cancellations on some routes, including employees being sick with COVID-19, seasonal cold and flu or severe winter storms.
Four sailings were cancelled yesterday on the Queen of Cowichan between Horseshoe Bay and Nanaimo due to staffing issues.
McIntosh says some sailings can still go ahead even when there's a shortage of employees but that depends on whether that's the captain, engineers or a cook.
He says fewer kitchen staff may mean less cafeteria service, but a ferry can't sail without key staff.
McIntosh says BC Ferries has contingency plans in place as requested by the provincial health officer to deal with a rise in absenteeism as the Omicron variant sweeps through the province, and that includes cross-training staff to do other duties or deploying them to different locations.
"All it takes is for a few people to be sick, depending on the role they play on the ferries, and then all of a sudden that augments your schedules in a way that we've seen. And we can say, anecdotally, that because of the COVID situation, we know that that is impacting our staff."
He says service notices are posted online as soon as possible when sailings won't be going ahead as scheduled because so many customers are dependent on the service to get to work, school and medical appointments.
Passengers can check the BC Ferries website for any cancellations before heading to a terminal or register to get notices sent to their mobile device.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 16, 2022.
The Canadian Press