The B.C. Premier is not happy with the federal government’s decision to reverse a measure that allowed passengers aboard ferry vessels to remain in their vehicles during the pandemic.
On Wednesday, Transport Canada announced that they would be reinstating the policy of disallowing passengers aboard ferries to stay in their vehicles on enclosed vehicle decks starting September 30.
While passengers aboard BC Ferries are not allowed to stay in vehicles on the lower passenger deck under normal circumstances, the move by Transport Canada to temporarily allow them to at the start of the pandemic was seen as a good way to let people travel while maintaining physical distancing aboard the vessels.
The announcement that this flexibility will be rescinded come September 30 flummoxed many, including the Premier of B.C.
“We were disappointed with the announcement from Transport Canada … This is not something we sought. This is something that’s being imposed,” said B.C. Premier John Horgan at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
He added that he has raised the issue with Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and will continue to press the federal government to rescind the announcement.
“We believe that our marine highway is an integral part, an essential service to a huge number of British Columbians and we believe we can safely transport people provided that we have support and cooperation from Ottawa,” Horgan continued.
“This is an unwelcome intrusion by the federal government at this time and we’re going to pursue it aggressively.”
For their part, BC Ferries said in a statement that they support the move to rescind the temporary flexibility, as enclosed car decks pose an inherent risk to travellers.
Transport Canada has advised that other measures developed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have been implemented in all transportation modes and businesses across Canada.
On BC Ferries vessels, these measures include additional cleaning, sanitization, physical distancing and mandatory wearing of face coverings while at the terminal and onboard the vessel.