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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Saanich offers free saplings to encourage residents to spruce up for National Tree Day

Giveaway to take place Sept. 21 in Glanford Park from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Sooke RCMP searching for two people, reported missing on Sept. 10

Alannah Brooke Logan, 20, and Beau Richard Santuccione, 32, last seen on Otter Point Road

Victoria man plans 30-hour walk to raise funds for vulnerable youth

Take a Hike engages youth in intensive, clinical counselling and outdoor experiential learning

Opponent of proposed Sidney cannabis store calls on councillors to heed health authority advice

Council to consider revised application from Happy Buddha Cannabis on Sept. 28

New urgent, primary care health centre opens in Saanich come November

North Quadra area facility to provide same-day, ongoing care for folks without family doctors

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

POLL: Do you plan on allowing your children to go trick or treating this year?

This popular annual social time will look quite different this year due to COVID-19

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Comox Valley protesters send message over old-growth logging

Event in downtown Courtenay was part of wider event on Friday

Application deadline for fish harvester benefits program extended

Those financially impacted by the pandemic have until Oct. 5 to apply

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

Man sentenced to 7 years for gas-and-dash death of Alberta gas station owner

Ki Yun Jo was killed after Mitchell Sydlowski sped off in a stolen cube van without paying for $198 of fuel

Most Read