(BC Ferries/Twitter)

BC Ferries will receive part of a $1 billion fund to keep the company afloat after months of incurring pandemic-induced losses.

In an announcement Tuesday morning, the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure stated that the ferry company is now eligible for the transit funding envelope of the Safe Restart Agreement between provincial and federal governments.

“Ensuring BC Ferries’ eligibility for Safe Restart funding reflects our shared values on the importance of our transit and ferry systems to the health of B.C. communities,” said Claire Trevena, B.C.’s Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, in a statement.

“This is another example of the positive relationship we have with the federal government. By working together in response to the impacts of COVID-19, we can ensure essential transportation is available to support a safe restart of the B.C. economy.”

To determine funding allocation, a task force is being formed with representatives from the provincial government, the BC Ferry Authority board and BC Ferries Services Inc. board.

At a press briefing, Minister Trevena says she does not expect BC Ferries fares to increase as a result of pandemic losses.

The $1 billion provincial fund, to be matched by a federal fund through a 50/50 cost sharing program, has been allocated to support the provision of BC Ferries, BC Transit and TransLink services after these transportation industries took a hit due to travel restrictions amid COVID-19.

This announcement was welcomed by BC Ferries, whose President and CEO Mark Collins issued a statement a few hours afterwards.

“We have been collaborating with both levels of government over the past several months regarding the significant impact of the pandemic on the coastal ferry system,” said Collins.

“We welcome the news of potential financial assistance for ferry users and coastal communities, and appreciate the efforts of both the Province and the federal government.”

The details of the agreement and the amount of funds are yet to be determined.

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