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Lack of crew leads to weekend sailing cancellations on B.C. Ferries

Ongoing staffing issues will mean ferry cancellations again this weekend. Travellers can expect the 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. sailings from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay to be cancelled on Sunday, as will the 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. from Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen. B.C.
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Some sailings to and from Swartz Bay will be cancelled on Sunday. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Ongoing staffing issues will mean ferry cancellations again this weekend.

Travellers can expect the 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. sailings from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay to be cancelled on Sunday, as will the 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. from Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen.

B.C. Ferries suggested seeking alternative service from Tsawwassen to Duke Point and Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay.

The corporation said it continues to actively recruit employees to fill vacancies.

A specific number of crew members is needed ensure safety, B.C. Ferries said in a statement.

“The decision to cancel a sailing in these circumstances is made when we have exhausted all options to find replacement crew.”

B.C. Ferry and Marine Workers’ Union president Eric McNeely said the situation with finding more workers hasn’t improved.

B.C. Ferries has put a “pretty big drive” on recruitment, he said, but retention of staff has become a challenge.

“So maybe they’re getting 800 people through the door, but certainly not keeping that many people.”

Other concerns come into play, McNeely said.

“For casuals and seasonals, when they come into B.C. Ferries, if there are these sailing disruptions because there is limited crew sometimes that affects the work — and therefore the income,” he said. “It’s a bit cyclical unfortunately.”

Along with that, he said, about 150 ferry workers are still off work due to vaccine-related issues.

“That has an impact, as well,” McNeely said. “There’s no question there.”

Job incentives for seasonal employees start at $350, and after the Labour Day weekend they get another $400, he said. There is a guarantee of 420 hours of work.

Travellers should prepare for waits, McNeely said.

“We’re at the beginning of summer and I can’t imagine it’s going to be sustainable forever,” he said. “And that means likely disruptions.”

jbell@timescolonist.com