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Several B.C. Ferries sailings cancelled Sunday due to crew shortage

Several sailings were cancelled over the weekend
The Departure Bay ferry terminal in Nanaimo.

Due to staffing shortages, B.C. Ferries has cancelled six sailings between Crofton and Salt Spring Island Sunday and two sailings between Departure Bay and Horseshoe Bay.

The sailings between the islands were to be on the Quinsam, which could not provide enough crew to sail in the evening.

Sailings leaving Vesuvius on Salt Spring have been cancelled at 6:45 p.m., 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., while sailings from Crofton have been cancelled at 7:55 p.m., 9 p.m. and 10 p.m.

The Queen of Alberni, which also cancelled sailings on Saturday for the same reason, will not sail from Departure Bay near Nanaimo at 9:30 p.m. on Sunday. The sailing from Horseshoe Bay at 11:40 p.m. has also been cancelled.

Crew availability has been a problem for B.C. Ferries over the last two years.

Two sailings of the Queen of Alberni ferry between Departure Bay and Horseshoe Bay were also cancelled Saturday afternoon due to a staff shortage.

The vessels require a specific number of crew members on board to ensure the safety of passengers in the unlikely event of an emergency and to comply with Transport Canada regulations.

According to the ferry corporation, the decision to cancel a sailing is made when it has exhausted all options to find replacement crew.

Ferry systems worldwide have been facing the same problem due to a global shortage of skilled mariners, an aging workforce as baby boomers head into retirement, and the lingering effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to B.C. Ferries its fleet of 36 vessels boasts about 5,400 employees, and the system normally operates with an absentee rate of five per cent. These days, Ferries said that is closer to 11 per cent.

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