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BC Ferries warns of possible service disruptions due to crew shortages, vaccine policies

Click to play video: 'BC Ferries warns of service disruptions in coming months'
BC Ferries warns of service disruptions in coming months
BC Ferries says a combination of factors, including the Omicron variant of COVID-19, could cause service disruptions in the coming months. Kylie Stanton tell us how the ferry corporation is trying to limit the damage, and what it might mean for smaller communities that depend on the ferries. – Jan 10, 2022

BC Ferries is warning customers a “combination of issues” may lead to unplanned service disruptions on all routes over the coming months.

The inter-island routes may be the most affected, the organization said in a release.

Factors such as the Omicron variant, regular cold and flu season, winter storms, vaccination policies that have reduced crew availability and the “global shortage of professional mariners” will all affect a vessel’s ability to operate, BC Ferries added.

Last October it was announced that employers in the federally-regulated transportation sector, including marine operators of Canadian vessels with a crew of 12 or more, must begin phasing in a mandatory vaccination policy by the end of the month.

Click to play video: 'BC Ferries Union warns of potential service disruptions when federal vaccine mandate kicks in'
BC Ferries Union warns of potential service disruptions when federal vaccine mandate kicks in

Read more: Powerful winds bring Metro Vancouver flooding, park closures and ferry cancellations

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BC Ferries said even a small number of crew who are unavailable to sail due to various reasons could have a “significant impact on service if replacements are challenging to find.

“To mitigate this risk, BC Ferries relies on staffing pools with crew held in reserve, crosstraining employees so they can be redeployed from one location to another as required, and overtime pay for employees who cover gaps,” BC Ferries said.

The company said it will communicate any service disruptions as quickly as possible to all customers and will look for ways to minimize the impact through the use of water taxis or other marine services, if possible.

Click to play video: 'BC Ferries to help enforce COVID-19 travel restrictions'
BC Ferries to help enforce COVID-19 travel restrictions

While a route may operate on a modified schedule, no route is expected to be suspended completely, the company said.

For the most up-to-date sailing information, visit BC Ferries’ website or follow @BCFerries on Twitter. To view the status of all routes at a glance, visit their website.

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