B.C. Ferries cancelled — and quickly reinstated — two sailings between the Lower Mainland and Victoria amid the busy Labour Day long weekend rush.
Before noon on Saturday, the ferry company announced the 6 p.m. sailing from Tsawwassen and the 8 p.m. sailing from Victoria has been cancelled due to staffing problems on the Queen of Westminster.
Soon after, B.C. Ferries reinstated both sailings, saying “the earlier staffing shortage… has been resolved. The vessel will sail as scheduled for the remainder of the day.”
Persistent staffing issues have led to a significant rise in the number of cancelled sailings on B.C. Ferries. In the 2023 fiscal year ending March, there were 1,163 cancellations due to crew shortages, up from 522 in 2022.
On Tuesday, B.C. Ferries CEO Nicolas Jimenez said one of the company’s efforts to ensure smooth sailings this weekend was to put relief crews on standby in case of unexpected absenteeism.
“We are seeing an improvement in absenteeism this summer season… and I do believe that that is a function of having more people,” Jimenez said during a technical briefing.
“I actually think we will continue to need more and we are going to see that with retirements planned over the next five years.”
He said the ferry service is “ready to go” for the long weekend, despite a major vessel out of service.
The Coastal Renaissance was pulled from the route in mid-August due to an engine problem and isn’t expected to be back until mid-October, resulting in the shuffling of 7,500 passengers this weekend.
Despite the brief hiccup, travel appears to be flowing smoothly on the major routes.