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 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

(Google Maps)
Sophisticated glass-removal crime returns to downtown Victoria

Several businesses on Fort Street targeted overnight, say police

(File - Sooke News Mirror)
Man exposes himself to woman, children on Sooke trail

Suspect believed to be between 55 and 65 years of age

Johnathan Lee Robichaud pleaded guilty to eight charges including sex-related offences against children and accessing, possessing and making or publishing child pornography. (Courtesy of Saanich Police)
Sentencing date moved for Saanich nanny guilty of child porn charges

Johnathon Lee Robichaud pleaded guilty to eight sex offences against children

(Pixabay photo)
Emergency sewer repairs underway on Phillips Road in Sooke

Sewage may have entered DeMamiel Creek and Sooke River

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the press theatre at the B.C. legislature for an update on COVID-19, Jan. 7, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 spread steady with 509 new cases Friday

Hospitalized and critical care cases decline, nine deaths

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Dr. Shannon Waters, the medical health officer for the Cowichan Valley Region, is reminding people to stay the course with COVID-19 measures. (File photo)
‘Stay the course’ with COVID measures, Island Health reminds

Limit social activity, wash hands, wear a mask, and isolate if you feel sick

Cowichan Tribes members line up at a drive-up clinic on Wednesday, Jan. 13 to receive the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in the region. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
BCAFN condems racism against Cowichan Tribes after COVID-19 outbreak

“Any one of us could do everything right and still catch the virus”: Regional Chief Terry Teegee.

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

The District reopened access to the Sooke Potholes on Friday. (Contributed - Ashley Ensor)
Sooke Potholes reopen after storm

The park was closed on Wednesday after down power lines

Most Read