Dining continues aboard ferries; union wants vaccinations for its members

The union representing B.C. Ferries workers is renewing its call to the province to vaccinate crews on the vessels.

Public health officials on March 31 banned all indoor ­dining at restaurants in the province for at least three weeks, but the order did not include the ­cafeterias and food-service operations in the ferry system.

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With ferry traffic picking up substantially over the Easter weekend and onboard dining still allowed, the B.C. Ferry and Marine Workers’ Union said its workers are at risk as new cases surge.

Union president Graeme Johnston called it “shameful.”

“My members deem it a high risk,” he said.

The public health order that exempts B.C. Ferries has been criticized by the restaurant industry as a double standard. Minister of Transportation Rob Fleming has said physical distancing and safety protocols remain on ferries and that it was important to continue food services, noting some sailings last longer than four hours.

The ferry union wants vaccinations for its members or a stop to food services.

It was disappointed to learn last month that ferry workers were not included in the province’s frontline workers eligible for vaccinations. That group included first responders, teachers and childcare providers, grocery store employees and postal workers. “We wrote Dr. Bonnie Henry back on Jan. 19 about this … and we have never heard back,” said Johnston.

dkloster@timescolonist.com

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