MP asks Minister of Transport for review of safe crew levels on new ferries

MP asks Minister of Transport for review of safe crew levels on new ferries

The new ferries were approved to run with smaller crew sizes, raising safety concerns

North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney has weighed in on the reduced staffing requirements for the north Island’s two new ferries.

The Island Aurora and Island Discovery were approved by Transport Canada to run with fewer crew members than the old ferries that were replaced.

Blaney sent a letter to federal transport minister Marc Garneau, requesting that he review the decision.

Ferry crew have said via the BC Ferry & Marine Workers Union that they are unable to complete emergency drills in a timely manner with the reduced crew size of five. The old ferries ran with six or seven crew.

BC Ferries said in a statement that the new ferries are more efficient, allowing the vessel to be safely run with fewer crew.

But the union disagreed, and filed a petition for a judicial review of the Transport Canada decision.

The small islands on the routes told Blaney that BC Ferries jobs are a major part of their livelihoods, and any layoffs will significantly impact them.

No one has been laid off yet, but the union said some workers have had their hours reduced to zero while others are working overtime.

READ MORE: Concerns raised about crew numbers for new BC Ferries

Dan Kimmerly, Ships’ Officers’ Component President with the union, said the crew of five is not able to perform regular engine maintenance and cleaning mid-voyage as they normally would, and so some are asked to do the work on overtime.

The other confusion is that the new boats are licensed to carry half their capacity. The licence allows 145 passengers, and yet can carry 300.

According to Kimmerly, it’s because 150 people — 145 passengers plus five crew — can fit in a life raft. The boats have two muster stations, but are only using one right now and so can only safely sail with half-capacity.

“There probably isn’t the demand right now [for full capacity], but it would appear that they’re just paying these people to sit at home right now. Why not just put them to work?” Kimmerly asked.

The Island Aurora runs between Port McNeill, Alert Bay and Sointula. The Island Discovery serves Powell River and Texada Island.

Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email: zoe.ducklow@blackpress.ca


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC politicsBCFerriesLabour

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

New electric buses are coming to school districts. (Submitted photo)
New electric school buses will drive North Island forward

Travel on electric school buses is smoother, quieter, and healthier than traditional diesel buses

North Island Gazette file photo of Port McNeill council.
Port McNeill average priced home to pay $12 more in taxes

Residential property taxes in Port McNeill are going up

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 25-May 1. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 case counts continue to trend down

Fewer than 200 active cases on the Island, down from highs of 500-plus earlier this spring

Opening ceremony in remembrance of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Awareness Day hosted by Quatsino First Nation. (Quatsino First Nation Facebook video screenshot)
VIDEO: Quatsino First Nation goes live for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Day

May 5 is when the message behind all the red dresses hanging comes into sharpest focus

North Island Gazette file photo of Port Hardy council.
Port Hardy council to send RCMP officer a letter of congratulations

Mayor Dennis Dugas said Corp. Chris Voller ‘obviously earned it and he did a great job up here’

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Island Health has confirmed COVID-19 exposures at Ecole des Deux Mondes in Campbell River on May 4 and 5, and at Mill Bay Nature School in Mill Bay on April 28, 29, 30 and May 3. (Metro Creative photo)
Two new COVID-19 school exposures confirmed by Island Health

Health authority contacting anyone exposed at Ecole des Deux Mondes, Mill Bay Nature School

Canada’s chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Post-inoculation, Theresa Tam says the risk of asymptomatic infection and transmission is far lower but not obsolete

The dash cam footage, taken May 7 at 8:18 a.m. belonged to the driver of a southbound vehicle that recently travelled out of the tunnel. (Reddit/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Dash cam captures dramatic rollover crash on Highway 99

Only one person sustained injuries from the collision, says B.C. Ambulance Services

Chevy stranded on a ledge above a rocky canyon at Mimi Falls near Logan Lake, April 28, 2021. (Photo credit: Margot Wikjord)
Police officer and fire chief team up in risky rescue of stranded dog near Logan Lake

Chevy, a rescue dog, needed rescuing again after getting stuck on a ledge above rocky canyon

Police were on the scene of a fatal shooting in Abbotsford. (Black Press Media files)
B.C. government to give more than $8 million for programs to curb gang violence

221 not-for-profit projects led by local governments and school districts among others will receive a one-time grant

Gord Judson steers his log truck down a forest service road, using two-way radio and call signals to mark his position for oncoming traffic. (B.C. Forest Safety Council)
Planning some B.C. wilderness fishing? Don’t catch a log truck

Remote recreation areas bracing for heavy pandemic pressure

Former University of British Columbia student Stephanie Hale, 22. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff Bassett
Human Rights Tribunal to hear complaint against UBC Okanagan for ‘mishandling’ sexual assault report

Stephanie Hale did not return to campus after the student she alleges attacked her was cleared of wrongdoing

Most Read