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BC Ferries report foresees possible recession, challenges with worker retention

A new report from BC Ferries to the independent Office of the BC Ferries Commissioner highlights significant challenges for the service, including a possible recession and difficulty recruiting and retaining employees.

"Morale is quite low because of the fact that people's lives are being affected significantly by the job," said Dan Kimmerly, president of the Ships Officers' Component with the BC Ferry and Marine Workers Union.

An updated report from BC Ferries to the BC Ferries Commissioner, which is an independent regulator that oversees BC Ferries operations, forecasts a recession in 2024, leading to declining revenue.

The report also notes the operator is struggling to maintain staff.

"Non-scheduled overtime has steadily increased for the last year and a bit," said Kimmerly.

"And then you also see the absenteeism, or people not being able to make it to work, because they're either fatigued" or unable to keep up with all the extra overtime, he said.

Almost 700 BC Ferries sailings were cancelled due to crew shortages from April through November last year.

BC Ferries says attracting staff is key to keeping vessels sailing.

In a statement, BC Ferries CFO Jill Sharland said that a shortage of skilled marine workers is a "global problem."

For BC Ferries, the shortage "is heightened by a widening gap between what we're able to pay and market benchmarks," she said.

In late February, the province announced it was providing BC Ferries with $500 million to help keep fares from rising.

B.C. Transportation Minister Rob Fleming said "without intervention, the fare hikes required to fund BC Ferries' submission would be over 10 per cent, and that's just not acceptable."

Kimmerly says he hopes that funding will not be wasted and will be "put into the development of employees."

The union says creating a competitive workplace to attract new staff might be what keeps the ferries coming in on time. Top Stories

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