BC Ferries vessel Skeena Queen eases into Fulford Harbour on Salt Spring Island, backdropped by fall colours. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)

BC Ferries vessel Skeena Queen eases into Fulford Harbour on Salt Spring Island, backdropped by fall colours. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)

B.C. Ferries union ‘deeply disappointed’ workers not included on vaccine priority list

Efforts underway to lobby province to prioritize, vaccinate transportation workers

On behalf of BC Ferries employees, the marine workers union has expressed “deep disappointment” that members were not included in the province’s plan to vaccinate frontline workers.

On March 18, the BC Ferry and Marine Workers’ Union released a statement from Jack Bruckman, executive director, emphasizing that members were dismayed when the provincial government announced that ferry workers would not be included in the first round of the AstraZeneca vaccine distribution.

READ ALSO: Swartz Bay ferry worker confirmed to have COVID-19

As B.C.’s age-based community immunization program with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is running ahead of schedule, the arrival of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine meant frontline workers could be immunized sooner than expected, Premier John Horgan explained Thursday. First responders, teachers, childcare professionals, grocery store employees and postal workers were among those listed in the priority group to receive the shot starting in April.

Graeme Johnson, president of the BC Ferry and Marine Workers’ Union, was disappointed to see the exclusion of marine workers. He noted it “seems wrong” that members’ efforts to minimize risks and continue transporting people safely during the pandemic would result in them not being placed higher on the vaccine priority list.

READ ALSO: B.C. emergency, grocery, school staff get COVID-19 vaccine starting April

According to Bruckman, Rob Flemming, B.C. minister of transportation, has reached out to the union to express support for ferry workers and other transportation employees being prioritized to receive the vaccine.

Bruckman added that the union has begun efforts to lobby the province and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry to demand that marine workers be added to the list to receive a vaccine alongside other high-risk workers.

“We are considering public-facing campaigns to draw attention to this wrong decision and put public pressure on a more just outcome for ferry workers,” Bruckman wrote in a release Thursday.

In a statement sent to Black Press Media on Saturday, BC Ferries said it understands that Henry is faced with difficult choices and that “the decisions are scientifically made and evidence-based.”

READ ALSO: BC Ferries confirms worker has COVID-19

“We feel this decision acknowledges BC Ferries is a low-risk site,” the corporation said.

However, a crew living aboard a vessel up north was recently added to the vaccine priority list which BC Ferries was pleased to see, adding it will continue to work with the province to “evaluate all options to vaccinate additional groups within BC Ferries, especially those working in remote settings.”

Over the course of the pandemic, several BC Ferries employees have tested positive for COVID-19. In late March 2020, a crew member out of Tsawwassen terminal became ill and another employee at the same terminal tested positive in August. In February, the corporation confirmed that an employee who works out of the Swartz Bay terminal had tested positive.

With files from Tom Fletcher


Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

BCFerriesCoronavirus

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

Just Posted

District of Vanderhoof municipal office. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
Vanderhoof district rejects FOI request for business name

Officials will release more information about the restaurant on May 21

Audrey McKinnon is seeking the NDP nomination for the federal riding of Cariboo-Prince George. (Twitter)
Audrey McKinnon puts name forward for NDP for federal election

McKinnon preparing for a contested nomination for Prince George-Cariboo riding

Michael Rees at his studio on the first floor of the old Burrard Market Square building. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
Painter and print-maker showcased at Vanderhoof Street Art Show

Michael Rees uses narrative in a majority of his work

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has suspended indoor dining at restaurants and pubs until at least April 19 in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. sets new COVID-19 daily record with 1,293 cases Thursday

New order allows workplace closures when infections found

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

Protesters occupied a road leading to Fairy Creek Watershed near Port Renfrew. (Submitted photo)
B.C. First Nation says logging activist interference not welcome at Fairy Creek

Vancouver Island’s Pacheedaht concerned about increasing polarization over forestry activities

Flow Academy is not accepting membership applications from anybody who has received a dose of the vaccine, according to a password-protected membership application form. (Submitted image)
B.C. martial arts gym refusing patrons who have been vaccinated, wear masks

Interior Health has already issued a ticket to Flow Academy for non-compliance with public health orders

Guinevere, lovingly referred to by Jackee Sullivan and her family as Gwenny, is in need of a gynecological surgery. The family is raising money to help offset the cost of the procedure. (Jackee Sullivan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Langley lizard’s owners raise funds for gynecological surgery

The young reptile is scheduled for operation on Tuesday

Facebook screenshot of the sea lion on Holberg Road. (Greg Clarke Facebook video)
VIDEO: Sea lion randomly spotted on remote B.C. logging road

Greg Clarke was driving home on the Holberg Road April 12, when he saw a large sea lion.

Defence counsel for the accused entered two not guilty pleas by phone to Grand Forks Provincial Court Tuesday, Jan. 12. File photo
B.C. seafood company owner fined $25K for eating receipt, obstructing DFO inspection

Richmond company Tenshi Seafood is facing $75,000 in fines as decided March 4 by a provincial court judge

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 2, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. NDP ministers defend ‘air tax,’ latest COVID-19 business aid

Empty home tax doesn’t apply to businesses, but space above them

In Ontario, COVID-19 vaccine clinics have been set up at local mosques. (Submitted photo: Rufaida Mohammed)
Getting the vaccine does not break your fast, says Muslim COVID-19 task force

Muslim community ‘strongly’ encouraging people to get their shot, whether or not during Ramadan

Most Read