Pandemic triggering increase in abuse against BC Ferries workers

WatchBC Ferries says COVID-19 is adding extra anxiety for everyone. But an increase in reports of abuse from passengers, they're reminding everyone to remain respectful.

Friday’s mid-afternoon ferry traffic at Swartz Bay is a far cry from the typical long-weekend line ups.

But with British Columbians itching to get out and explore amid this pandemic, BC Ferries is expecting a busy August long-weekend.

Since the pandemic restrictions have eased, traffic on BC Ferries has slowly increased. But along with it, the abuse against BC Ferries workers has also gone up.

“I wouldn’t say the last few weeks, it’s been the last few months,” said Dan Kimmerly with the BC Ferries’ Union.

“We’ve had a lot of people getting pretty serious abuse, to the point that people aren’t able to come into work.”

The union says on average, eight out of 10 workers suffer abuse from passengers, but the incidents may be rising.

“Anecdotally we are seeing a bit of an increase,” said Tessa Humpries, a spokesperson with BC Ferries.

“During this pandemic, it’s safe to say that everyone has a heightened state of anxiety but that doesn’t mean you can abuse our employees. We have a really strong stance on that. You will be denied service if you abuse our employees.”

BC Ferries said they best way to voice concerns is to go through the formal complaint process. More information is available on the BC Ferries website.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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