Nanaimo to Gabriola Island ferry faces 18 cancelled sailings Thursday due to staff shortages

Nanaimo to Gabriola Island ferry faces 18 cancelled sailings Thursday due to staff shortages
One of two vessels servicing the Gabriola-Nanaimo Harbour route is plagued by cancellations Thursday. (BC Ferries)

Well over a dozen BC Ferries sailings on the Island Gwawis have been cancelled for Thursday and crewing issues are to blame, according to the company.

In a service notice, BC Ferries said a total of 18 sailings between 6:35 a.m. and 5:05 p.m. would be scrapped on the route taking travellers from Nanaimo to Gabriola Island and vice-versa.

“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,” BC Ferries said in its notice.

But cancellations are nothing new and come less than a week after the Island Gwawis was hit with 10 cancelled sailings this past Saturday, July 16, also due to staff shortages.

More recently, several sailings throughout the day on Sunday were cancelled to and from Salt Spring Island, prompting BC Ferries to call in a water taxi to shuttle some travellers off the island.

BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall said while the company has hired enough workers to return to normal service levels, COVID-19 and other factors are hitting the workforce hard with an 11 per cent absenteeism rate.

In a subsequent interview with CHEK News, BC Ferries and Marine Workers’ Union president Eric McNeely called the company’s employee absenteeism comments “a slap in the face.”

READ MORE: Ferry workers’ union pushes back against claims’ absenteeism’ behind service cancellations

According to BC Ferries, the decision to cancel a sailing is made when the company has “exhausted all options to find replacement crew.”

“That said, if circumstances change and replacement crew become available, we will notify customers immediately,” it added.

The following Island Gwawis sailings have been cancelled for Thursday, July 21:

  • 6:35 am departing Nanaimo Harbour
  • 7:05 am departing Descanso Bay
  • 7:35 am departing Nanaimo Harbour
  • 8:10 am departing Descanso Bay
  • 8:45 am departing Nanaimo Harbour
  • 9:20 am departing Descanso Bay
  • 9:55 am departing Nanaimo Harbour
  • 10:30 am departing Descanso Bay
  • 11:05 am departing Nanaimo Harbour
  • 11:40 am departing Descanso Bay
  • 12:55 pm departing Nanaimo Harbour
  • 1:30 pm departing Descanso Bay
  • 2:15 pm departing Nanaimo Harbour
  • 2:50 pm departing Descanso Bay
  • 3:25 pm departing Nanaimo Harbour
  • 4:00 pm departing Descanso Bay
  • 4:35 pm departing Nanaimo Harbour
  • 5:05 pm departing Descanso Bay

BC Ferries says people should visit their website or follow them on Twitter @BCFerries or call them at 1-888-223-3779 for the most up-to-date sailing and departure information.

-With files from CHEK’s Jeff Lawrence. 

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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