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

Just Posted

Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen offices in Penticton. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen showcases local government

The RDOS has put together a video as part of Local Government Awareness Week

North Okanagan business Hytec Kohler set up a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Spallumcheen plant Friday, May 14. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
More than half of eligible adults in Interior Health vaccinated

Over 365,000 vaccine doses have been administered throughout the Interior Health region

New Border Bruins owner Dr. Mark Szynkaruk reps team colours with his young sons and wife Tracey. Photo courtesy of the Grand Forks Border Bruins
KIJHL’s Border Bruins sold to Grand Forks doctor

The league announced the sale Friday, May 14

Doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine are seen being prepared on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Decatur, Ga. Hundreds of children, ages 12 to 15, received the Pfizer vaccine at the DeKalb Pediatric Center, just days after it was approved for use within their age group. (AP Photo/Ron Harris)
One death, 60 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The death is connected to the outbreak at Spring Valley long-term care in Kelowna

A brown bear and two cubs were spotted near Killiney Beach May 10. (Michael Dick photo)
Warm spring brings bears out earlier in Okanagan

Residents urged to keep their garbage secure until the morning of pickup

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

A man and woman, both 33 and from Kelowna, were arrested on Postill Lake Forest Service Road in possession of two stolen vehicles Friday, May 14, 2021. (File photo)
Kelowna duo arrested with stolen vehicles after ‘brief’ bicycle getaway attempt

A man and a woman were arrested on a forest service road on numerous pending charges

The BC Conservation Officer Service (COS) handed out fines to two anglers on Shuswap Lake who were both casting more than one line, in violation of provincial regulations, Saturday, May 15, 2021. (COS photo)
Conservation officers snag Shuswap anglers for unlawful fishing

Two anglers were given $150 fines for casting two lines at once, against provincial regulations

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Lynda Saundry, born 1961, is charged with the murder of North Okanagan resident Barry Jones in July 2020. Saundry will appear in Vernon court May 17, 2021, to fix a date for a preliminary inquiry. (Facebook public photo)
North Okanagan murder suspect to be tried by judge and jury

Lynda Saundry is charged with the first-degree murder of Barry Jones in July 2020

Vernon Search and Rescue’s Legacy vessel is returning to Okanagan Lake for boating season, the society said Friday, May 14, 2021. (VSAR photo)
Vernon Search and Rescue vessel returns to Okanagan Lake

VSAR’s Legacy is back with a fresh coat of paint and some other upgrades

People shop in Chinatown in Vancouver on Friday, February 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver community leaders call for action following 717% rise in anti-Asian hate crimes

‘The alarming rise of anti-Asian hate in Canada and south of the border shows Asians have not been fully accepted in North America,’ says Carol Lee

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

Most Read