BC Ferries is warning that crewing challenges the organization is facing is expected to impact sailings over the spring and summer periods.
The ferry company says the shortages are due to higher than expected retirements, difficulties recruiting international candidates due to the pandemic, vaccination policies, and the 25-year global shortage of professional mariners.
Due to the lifting of pandemic restrictions, BC Ferries is also anticipating that this summer will be busier than normal as more people head out to explore the province.
However, due to the crewing shortages, the ability to add extra sailings during busier times is expected to be impacted as well.
The company also predicts that due to the shortages, there may not be the ability to backfill positions if someone were to call out sick, which may also lead to last minute changes and cancellations to the schedules.
BC Ferries says the best possible steps to avoid sailing waits during busy travel times are:
- Reserve a spot on the sailing you plan to take.
- Travel at less busy times, which are typically mid-week days and early morning or late evening sailings.
- Travel as a foot passenger.
- Arrive early. Between 45-60 minutes early for vehicle passengers, and 45 minutes early for foot passengers.
- Check the BC Ferries website or Twitter account for sailing advisories on the day you plan to travel.
BC Ferries says it has taken steps to attract new employees like spending approximately $23 million a year on internal training and development, a recruitment push including presence at career fairs, collaborating with agencies to attract qualified candidates, and asking retired employees to return in the short term.
The company says these methods have resulted in approximately 600 positions being filled for the summer.