BC Ferries is suffering from crew shortages as it heads into the busy summer season, leading to some cancellations on major routes Tuesday.
Among the cancelled trips were the 3:15 p.m. departing Tsawwassen, the 5:45 p.m. departing Duke Point, the 8:15 p.m. departing Tsawwassen, and the 10:45 p.m. departing Duke Point.
Four sailings were cancelled Monday evening as well.
The corporation cited “crewing challenges” in its service notice online.
“The decision to cancel a sailing in these circumstances is made when we have exhausted all options to find replacement crew. That said, if circumstances change and replacement crew become available, we would notify customers immediately.”
Transport Canada regulations require a specific number of crew members on board for safety reasons in the event of an emergency.
In late March, BC Ferries said it was facing a labour shortage because of “higher than expected retirements in key shipboard positions,” the effects of COVID-19 vaccine mandates, and challenges recruiting internationally due to the pandemic.
In a written statement, the company confirmed it’s offering a range of bonuses to incentivize new, current and former employees, with several conditions. Between $5,000 and $10,000 is available for referrals, new hires, returning ex-employees, and those who delay their retirement, if they hold certain in-demand certifications, it said.
“There’s a tough market out there and we’re just trying to do everything we can to recruit and fill all those vacancies,” said Deborah Marshall, BC Ferries’ vice-president of public affairs.
BC Ferries has hired 850 new employees since January, she added, roughly 500 of whom are considered seasonal. About 150 additional staffers are needed to meet the sailing demand.
With files from Elizabeth McSheffrey and Kylie Stanton