The move was announced during Question Period in the B.C. legislature Tuesday morning and will take effect on April 1, 2024, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure confirmed by email.
A missed sailing due to crew shortages will cost $7,000 on a major route and $1,000 on select minor routes.
“While these penalties won’t entirely make up for someone who has just had an important sailing cancelled, we expect some benefits to be returned to ferry users,” the ministry wrote.
“Details of how penalties will be applied are still being finalized.”
BC Ferries has been battling crew shortages for months, with some sailings cancelled due to lack of available staff.
In August, it was revealed that about four in 10 cancelled sailings last fiscal year were the result of the ferry service’s staffing woes, according to a company report.
The report found about 1,100 of more than 2,800 cancellations from April 2022 to March 2023 were due to crew shortages. That figure was more than double the 522 crew-related cancellations in the previous fiscal year, and just 25 crew-related cancellations in the 2020 fiscal year.
The ministry said the penalties are an added measure in the new Coastal Ferry Services Contract to “hold the company to account for the services it is contracted to provide.”
“We know it was a frustrating summer for many ferry users, with cancelled sailings and longer waits as a result,” it wrote.
-with files from Simon Little