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

Andrew Swanson was arrested Wednesday after he was wanted for an alleged choking assault and for obstructing police. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Victoria police arrest Andrew Swanson on warrants for alleged choking assault, obstruction

A member of the public spotted Swanson and called 911 before police came and made the arrest

(Black Press Media file photo)
Youth sustains minor injuries in stabbing at Saanich Plaza

Suspect under age of 16 taken into custody, no risk to the public, police say

Sue Hodgson returns as publisher of the Peninsula News Review starting June 1. (Courtesy Sue Hodgson)
Peninsula News Review welcomes back Sue Hodgson as publisher

Dale Naftel takes helm of Oak Bay News as publisher

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 25-May 1. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 case counts continue to trend down

Fewer than 200 active cases on the Island, down from highs of 500-plus earlier this spring

Jackson Peters picks, plays and sings on Willows Beach. Peters likes to tour parks in Greater Victoria to practice his music and enjoy the outdoors. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Beach weather strikes in Oak Bay

Willows hosts those looking to swim, play volleyball and build sand castles

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of May 4

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: Do you plan to travel on the Victoria Day long weekend?

It’s the unofficial start to the summer season. A time of barbecues,… Continue reading

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

(File)
With revenge porn on the rise in 2021, B.C. seeks feedback for new legislation

New legislation could help victims take down images and receive compensation

The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent sails past a iceberg in Lancaster Sound, Friday, July 11, 2008. The federal government is expected to end nearly two years of mystery today and reveal its plan to build a new, long overdue heavy icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver, Quebec shipyards to each get new heavy icebreaker, cost remains a mystery

Vancouver’s Seaspan Shipyards and Quebec-based Chantier Davie will each build an icebreaker for the coast guard

Most Read