BC Ferries cancels pair of Vancouver-Nanaimo sailings over crew shortage

Passengers sit on the outer deck of the Queen of Alberni in this undated photo. Simon Little / Global News

Staffing issues have once again disrupted ferry traffic between Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island.

BC Ferries said a lack of crew availability forced it to cancel two sailings on the Queen of Alberni between Nanaimo and Vancouver.

The cancellations affect the 5 p.m. sailing from Departure Bay and the 7:20 p.m. sailing from Horseshoe Bay.

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The company said other sailings on the route were not expected to be affected.

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“We require a specific number of crew members on board the vessel to ensure the safety of our passengers in the unlikely event of an emergency and to comply with Transport Canada regulations,” the company said.

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“The decision to cancel a sailing in these circumstances is made when we have exhausted all options to find replacement crew.”

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BC Ferries said passengers with reservations would be contacted directly about refunds.

The cancellations are the latest in a series of disruptions on some of BC Ferries’ major southern routes as it grapples with what it says is a global shortage of skilled maritime labour.

The company says it has hired about 1,000 new staff since January and recalled about two-thirds of the 150 people who were put on leave without pay due to COVID-19 vaccine mandates as it tries to address the shortage.

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