BC Ferries is projecting major financial losses this fiscal year, due to the drastic reduction in traffic during the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the lack of provincial or federal bailout funding. (Black Press Media file photo)

BC Ferries’ COVID-related financial woes compounded by lack of transit bailout funding

Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Claire Trevena insists no fare increases on the way

Whether a provincial or federal government bailout of some kind comes to the financially troubled B.C. Ferry Corporation, the travelling public should not expect to pay increased fares to make up for its losses.

B.C. Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Claire Trevena indicated as much Tuesday, in a discussion around the absence of federal emergency funding for BC Ferries and the devastating losses the corporation has sustained as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

ALSO READ: B.C. Ferries increasing passenger capacity after COVID-19 restrictions

When the NDP government changed the Coastal Ferry Act last year, she said, “we built public interest into the Act. And it is not in the public interest, at this time, to be looking at increasing fares … it will not help the people of B.C. and it will not help the economy of B.C.”

In the 2019 Speech from the Throne, a freeze on B.C. Ferries fare increases for major routes and discounts on minor and northern routes were extended to March 2020.

BC Ferries estimates its revenue losses since the pandemic largely shut down non-essential travel to be approximately $130 million and projects a $150-million net loss for 2020.

Due to its unsteady financial situation, the corporation is pausing major capital investments such as new vessels – excepting those already under construction – and upgrades to terminals. It is also taking on debt to help cover its projected losses.

Public transit systems were targeted for “a dedicated stream of funding” as part of the federal government’s $19-billion Safe Restart Agreement announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on July 16. The agreement requires the provinces to outline how they will invest the federal funds, but BC Ferries has so far not qualified for either that funding or any provincial relief money.

Trevena said the corporation “has not asked for a bailout,” but did not explain why it was not included for help along with such organizations as BC Transit and Translink, which have also seen major ridership declines during the pandemic. Those two operations are slated to receive $560 million under the federal program, plus matching funding from the province.

ALSO READ: Multiple sailing waits expected on ferries on B.C. Day long weekend

Asked whether it appears any financial assistance for BC Ferries will come solely from the B.C. government, Trevena would only say the province is in regular talks with BC Ferries to “understand the extent of the problem.” A BC Ferries spokesperson added the corporation has been in talks with both levels of government for months to see if any other aid programs might be applicable.

Premier John Horgan has previously discussed the importance of the ferry system to B.C.’s economy with Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, and Trevena said the province continues to work with the federal government on how it may access federal dollars for BC Ferries.


 

Do you have a story tip? Email:don.descoteau@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.  
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

bc ferryCoronavirusProvincial GovernmentTourismTransportation

Just Posted

So Vancouver Island, you want to defund your police?

Examining what a nearly $10 million RCMP contract gets the people of Campbell River

Opioid crisis and COVID-19 pressing issues for mid-Island’s new medical health officer

Dr. Mike Benusic has been working in his new role with Island Health since July 2

Textured mats at Saanich intersections guide pedestrians with visual impairments

Yellow ‘tactile tiles’ make crossing busy intersections safer, District says

Vancouver Island officials can ‘only educate and encourage’ people to social distance

Leaders plead for education, as municipality lacks authority to enforce social distancing in public

Throwback: Parksville Makerspace shows off old Commodore 64 computer

Open house takes place Aug. 8, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Missing teen visiting Courtenay found safe

She had last been seen going for a walk on Aug. 6

Need a doctor in Sooke? You may be in luck

In anticipation of recruiting more doctors, medical clinic accepting applications for a waitlist

Poles mark growing bond between BC Hydro, Campbell River First Nations

Totem poles placed on the John Hart dam site a symbol of a stronger relationship

COVID-19: Modified beach volleyball a hit in Parksville

Organizer happy to get popular summer game going

Nanaimo Fringe Festival productions adapt to new online format

10th annual festival to be live-streamed due to COVID-19

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

Most Read