(Black Press Media files)

(Black Press Media files)

Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

Transport Canada has no plans to allow passengers to remain on enclosed car decks, the agency told Black Press Media by email Wednesday (Jan. 20).

The statement was in response to a letter sent by the president of the BC Ferry and Marine Workers’ Union.

In it, Graeme Johnston said that with new, more transmissible variants of COVID-19 spreading in Canada, the risk to passengers and crew from more people on passenger decks was too high and that the agency should allow passengers to remain on enclosed decks as it did early on in the pandemic. BC Ferries allowed passengers to remain on enclosed ferry decks from March 17 to September 30 of last year, per Transport Canada regulations.

READ MORE: BC Ferries asks travellers to spread out on vessels during a busy long weekend

“The COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7 is thought to be 30-70 per cent more infectious than the current dominant strain of COVID-19 in Canada, and has devastated several European countries despite their stringent lockdown measures,” Johnston wrote.

“We believe developments related to the spread of more infectious variants of COVID-19 should, at a minimum, initiate a review of the current risk assessments for Canadian passenger vessels.”

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

The letter, addressed to Julie Cascon, the director general of marine safety and security for Transport Canada, asks for a review of enclosed deck regulations to take place before community transmission of the new variant is widespread.

“We believe the increased risk of COVID-19 infection from highly contagious virus variants, like B.1.1.7, may outweigh the risks of passengers remaining in their vehicles on enclosed decks in many circumstances,” Johnston wrote.

READ MORE: Feds offer ‘life preserver’ funds to BC Ferries as pandemic sinks revenue

In its response, Transport Canada said that it was too dangerous to allow passengers to remain on enclosed decks.

“On enclosed vehicle decks, fuelled vehicles, bulk and dangerous goods are often parked tightly together. If an emergency were to happen – say a fire, flooding or collision – evacuating everyone safely would be extremely difficult. In fact, the loss of life could be catastrophic,” a spokesperson said.

“No country in the world allows people to remain in their vehicles on enclosed vehicle decks.”

Transport Canada said that the wearing of masks and physical distancing were enough to keep passengers safe amid the pandemic. Non-essential travel is currently strongly discouraged in B.C.

READ MORE: Human rights complaint filed over private change rooms for female BC Ferries engineers


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

bc ferryBCFerriesCoronavirus

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

Just Posted

This Dec. 2, 2020, file photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows vials of the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. (Johnson & Johnson via AP)
Interior Health notes 80 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend

108 people in the region have died from the virus

The goal of the group is to help women owned businesses recover from the pandemic and to assist women to become angel investors and women owned or co-owned businesses to better access capital.
Okanagan women’s investor fund launched to aid women-owned businesses

Twenty-five women have formed a new Okanagan angel investment fund

It's tick season in South Okanagan.
Tick season has started in South Okanagan

A Penticton adventure company collected 200 ticks last year to be studied for Lyme Disease

Forty-eight vaccination clinics will open across Interior Health beginning March 15. (Canadian Press)
48 COVID-19 vaccine clinics to open across Interior Health

Select groups can book appointments starting Monday

(File photo)
COLUMN: How to help your young reluctant reader

Library has resources to help children

Five Kelowna writers are featured in an anthology that launched in time for International Women's Day. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
International Women’s Day: Book exploring fears features Kelowna writers

The book has launched in time for International Women’s Day

Montreal Canadiens right wing Paul Byron (41) fights for control of the puck with Vancouver Canucks defenceman Quinn Hughes (43) during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Monday, March 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Captain Clutch: Horvat nets shootout winner as Canucks edge Habs 2-1

Vancouver, Montreal tangle again on Wednesday

A special committee has been appointed to look at reforming B.C.’s police act and is inviting the public to make submissions until April 30, 2021. (Black Press media file)
Have thoughts on B.C.’s review of the provincial Police Act?

Submissions will be accepted until April 30

Susan Kootnekoff is the founder of Inspire Law, an Okanagan based-law practice, and provides Kelowna Capital News with weekly stories from the world of local, national and international law. (Contributed)
Kootnekoff: Royal Dismissal

Susan Kootnekoff is the founder of Inspire Law, her diverse legal career spans over 20 years

Cottonwoods Care Home in Kelowna. (Google Maps)
New COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna care home includes fully vaccinated seniors: Henry

Two staff and 10 residents tested positive at Cottonwoods Care Centre

Excerpts from a conversation between Bria Fisher and the fake truLOCAL job. Fisher had signed a job agreement and was prepared to start work for what she thought was truLOCAL before she learned it was a scam. (Contributed)
B.C. woman warning others after losing $3,000 in job scam

Bria Fisher was hired by what she thought was a Canadian company, only to be out thousands

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix provide a regular update on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, March 2, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 cases: 545 Saturday, 532 Sunday, 385 Monday

Focus on Prince Rupert, Lower Mainland large workplaces

(File photo)
RCMP seek witnesses after 2 different reports of man chasing children in Kelowna

Both incidents occured around Dougall Road in Rutland

Most Read