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

Edna Whiteley in 2016. “Her whole life has been happy and about helping others,” says her nephew Bob Steed. Photo: Submitted
Nelson’s ‘little firecracker’ Edna Whiteley turns 100

Whiteley is known as a welcoming ambassador for new arrivals in the city

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
67 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Thirty people in the region are hospitalized with the virus, 11 of whom are intensive care

An animal carrier full of bullet holes and containing a dead animal was found near Castlegar. Photo: Colleen Schwartz
Castlegar woman finds dead animal inside carrier riddled with bullet holes

The remains were discovered near Syringa Creek Provincial Park

For web
Advocates hold opioid crisis vigil in Trail and Rossland

A delegation offered a powerful presentation on the opioid crisis to Rossland council last month

A lone traveler enters the Calgary Airport in Calgary, Alta., Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
VIDEO: Trudeau defends Canada’s travel restrictions as effective but open to doing more

Trudeau said quarantine hotels for international air travellers will continue until at least May 21

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

In this image from video, former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, center, is taken into custody as his attorney, Eric Nelson, left, looks on, after the verdicts were read at Chauvin’s trial for the 2020 death of George Floyd, Tuesday, April 20, 2021, at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Court TV via AP, Pool
George Floyd’s death was ‘wake-up call’ about systemic racism: Trudeau

Derek Chauvin was found guilty Tuesday on all three charges against him

Former University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Rowing Canada sanctions former head coach of B.C. varsity women’s team

Suspension of Barney Williams would be reversed if he complies with certain terms

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

The IIO is investigating after a police dog bit a man during a traffic stop near Ladysmith on April 17, 2021. (Black Press Media stock photo)
Man arrested in incident at Canada-U.S. border near Roosville

A man who crossed the border illegally was apprehended by U.S. officials

Most Read