(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

Once again Fraser East is among the health service delivery areas with the highest rate of COVID-19 transmission in the province. (Datawrapper)
Fraser East sees third highest rate of COVID-19 cases in B.C.

The region is seeing a sustained increase in new COVID-19 cases

Once a star player with the University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball team, Kayli Sartori is moving into a new role coaching the next generation of Cascades. (UFV photo)
Chilliwack’s Kayli Sartori goes from court to coach with UFV basketball Cascades

Sartori is taking a new path as part of the U-Sports female basketball apprentice coaching program

Const. Allan Young. Photo: Abbotsford Police Department
Manslaughter charge laid in Nelson death of Abbotsford police officer

Allan Young died after an incident in downtown Nelson last summer

Sarah De Klein and her family have created a team – one of many – for the Move4Communitas fitness challenge and fundraiser. (Submitted photo)
Communitas in Abbotsford holds virtual fitness challenge

Move4Communitas started March 1 and runs for 8 weeks

The Kimber family of Boston Bar lost their home in a fire. Blaine Kimber’s daughter created a fundraiser to help rebuild the home with the goal of $100,000. (Screenshot/GoFundMe)
Fundraiser created for Boston Bar family that lost everything in weekend fire

Witnesses say the Kimber family escaped the fire without injury, but their home is a total loss

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

(BC SPCA)
Is it safe to give your dog some peanut butter? Not always, BC SPCA warns

Some commercial peanut butter ingredients can be harmful to dogs

Health Minister Adrian Dix, front, B.C. Premier John Horgan and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrive for a news conference about the provincial response to the coronavirus, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, March 6, 2020. Pandemic emergency measures have been in place for almost a year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. officials plead for patience as 1.7 million COVID-19 calls flood in

Vaccine registration for 90-plus seniors opened Monday

A West Kootenay man died in an avalanche on March 4 while snowmobiling near Mount Payne, which is indicted by the red flag. Illustration: Google Maps
B.C. father of 3 dead after avalanche in West Kootenay

The man was snowmobiling with a group when incident occurred March 4

Surrey RCMP are investigating a “serious” collision near Cloverdale Saturday evening. (Curtis Kreklau photo)
Man dead after single vehicle collision in Surrey; speed possible factor

Police say vehicle collided with telephone pole at approximately 9:30 p.m.

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Vaccine hesitancy decreases in B.C. as mass immunizations set to begin: poll

Two-thirds of British Columbians, and Canadians, would get the vaccine as soon as possible

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Software engineer Shaimma Yehia, 40, has been forced to re-skill during the COVID-19 pandemic after more than six years of unsuccessfully applying for jobs in B.C.’s tech industry. (Submitted photo/Shaimma Yehia)
Why skilled immigrant women continue to be shut out of B.C.’s booming tech sector

Experienced software engineer Shaimma Yehia, 40, hasn’t found a job since she migrated to Canada 6 years ago

Most Read