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

Surrey Fire Service at a garage fire in the 14400-block of 82A Ave on March 22, 2021. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
‘Perfect storm’ of variants, increasing COVID cases are concerning for Surrey fire chief

Between police and fire, Larry Thomas said there are 8 confirmed cases, 18 others isolating

Surrey Fire Service is on scene of a fire in the 12300-block of 72A Avenue Saturday morning (April 10). (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Surrey crews on scene of house fire

It happened in the 12300-block of 72A Avenue

Emergency crews on scene after a small plane crashed in a grassy area on the northeast side of Boundary Bay Airport Saturday morning (April 10). A freelancer said the plane caught fire and one person was transported to hospital by BC Emergency Health Services. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Small plane crashes at Delta’s Boundary Bay Airport

Plane appears to have suffered ‘significant’ damage

Signage on a South Surrey sidewalk reminds pedestrians to respect social-distancing guidelines. (Photo: Tracy Holmes)
Surrey records 4,400 COVID-19 cases in March

New cases almost doubled between February, March

Surrey RCMP are looking for these two men after a bank in the 12800-block of 96th Avenue was robbed on March 12. (Images: Surrey RCMP)
Police release images of two men suspected of robbing Surrey bank

Robbery happened on March 12 at bank in 12800-block of 96th Avenue

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

As of Saturday, April 10, people born in 1961 are the latest to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press files)
B.C. residents age 60+ can now register to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine registration is now open to people born in 1961 or earlier

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests available for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

Ruming Jiang and his dog Chiu Chiu are doing fine following a brush with hypothermia that saw several people work together to get them out of the Fraser River near Langley’s Derby Reach Park on March 25, 2021 (Special to the Advance Times)
Man finds men who rescued him from drowning in B.C.’s Fraser River

A grateful Ruming Jiang says he will thank them again, this time in person when the pandemic ends

The 10-part Netflix series Maid, which is being exclusively shot in Greater Victoria, was filming near Prospect Lake in Saanich last month. (Photo courtesy Fred Haynes)
Province announces $150,000 towards film studio, fulfilling B.C. NDP promise

Investment to fund movie studio feasibility study at Camosun College

Tyson Ginter, 7, is proud of his latest Hot Wheels he recently received by Quesnel RCMP Const. Matt Joyce. (Photo submitted)
B.C. Mountie handing out toy cars to light up children’s faces

‘A lot of times it will be the only interaction they have with the police,’ says Const. Matt Joyce

People stroll through rows of tulips in bloom during the Tulips of the Valley Festival on May 2, 2017. The colourful spring event, now called Chilliwack Tulips, opens on Sunday, April 11, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Fraser Valley tulip attraction returns this weekend for 1 month

More than 6.5 million bulbs in all at this year’s colourful Chilliwack Tulips event

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a technical briefing on the COVID pandemic in Canada, Friday, January 15, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s ICUs see near-record of COVID-19 patients last week as variant cases double

Last week, Canadian hospitals treated an average of 2,500 patients with COVID-19, daily, up 7% from the previous week

University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
UVic, women’s rowing coach deny former athlete’s allegation of verbal abuse

Lily Copeland alleges coach Barney Williams would stand close to her and speak aggressively in the sauna

Most Read