MLA Adam Olsen: Bring BC Ferries Back Into Government

The provincial government is responsible for the provincial transportation network including our ferry system, the critical service connecting coastal communities. That is why the BC Greens advocate for BC Ferries to be brought back into government.

The ferries system connects us to our homes, our businesses and our communities. They are critical for the economic survival of coastal British Columbia. When an issue with the BC Ferries service arises, it is usually followed by an immediate and visceral reaction from the public.

With at least a third of our provincial economy linked by our marine highways, the provincial government must ensure that the service is robust, reliable, convenient and affordable. This is a message I have heard consistently from my constituents in Saanich North and the Islands and across British Columbia.

BC Ferries was deeply impacted when Dr. Bonnie Henry responded to the COVID-19 global pandemic by asking people to stay home and ordering strict social distancing measures. Their revenue plummeted with the restrictions on non-essential travel and the dramatically reduced ferry schedules.

While the provincial government scrambled to address the impacts of the pandemic across the province, BC Ferries were left to fend for themselves. To maintain the critical service the corporation had little choice but to turn to their reserves. I am deeply concerned about their ability to maintain a modern ferry service without those funds for important capital projects like vessel renewal and terminal upgrades.

Thankfully the federal government’s billion dollar contribution, that must be matched dollar-for-dollar by the province, will provide some financial relief for the ferries service. However it’s not before hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent.

I raised this issue with the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, Hon. Claire Travena, more than a month ago. It’s likely that a generation's worth of capital investments in the ferry service are gone and it’s unlikely that any of the recently announced funding will replenish the reserve accounts of the corporation.

The extent of the damage that BC Ferries has sustained as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic remains unclear. With the potential of a second wave this fall there may be choppy waters ahead and BC Ferries can not afford further losses of revenue.

I appreciate the federal government stepping up and including the BC Ferries as an eligible transit service for their recovery funds. It means the provincial government is also now on the hook for investing further resources in keeping this critical service operating.

Our ferry system is a critical part of our provincial transportation network, they are marine highways, and despite the current complex governance structure they are squarely a provincial responsibility. The provincial government has to take responsibility for BC Ferries once again to ensure the long-term viability of the critical service keeping our coast connected.

Adam Olsen
MLA for Saanich North and the Islands

August 30, 2020 11:12 AM

  • Avatar Tanya Schulz says:

    Oh my goodness. What such a bad idea. Can we say ICBC, BC Hydro?
    We pay for it one way or another. Let us not bring something under the umbrella of the BC government.

  • Avatar SSIDancer says:

    ICBC had the cheapest insurance in canada and then the prov. liberals started to raid the coffers annually to supplement their mismanaged general budget they were running and nearly bankrupted the corporation and raised the rates for insurance annually at the same time.
    Hydro was returning something like a 300 -400 million dollar profit annually and then the prov. government went and cut a foolish deal with a couple of the states in the USA and ended up paying out rather than collecting from those states. We had the lowest electricity costs in Canada or USA and still have some of the lowest in spite of the shortsighted deal.
    So no you cannot single out those to corporations as "such a bad idea".
    Transportation avenues either by road or water in this country have always fallen under the provincial govt. umbrella and are to to provide quality service for all. Since highways was put out to bid by once again, short sighted prov. liberal govts. to appease business interests first and the citizens of BC. second, the highways infrastructure province wise have deteriorated due to granting contracts to lowest bidder not to the bidder that is going to deliver the best product.

  • Avatar SSIDancer says:

    For the record the BC Liberal provincial govt. got the idea to take from the hydro and ICBC coffers from the Federal Tories who cleaned out the unemployment fund annually starting back in the Mulroony era. The fund always had a healthy surplus for recessions etc. They took 300-400 mil a year to try and balance their books. T
    Taking from the unemployment fund is akin to walking into to a store and stealing from the non-profit charity boxes sitting on the counter by the till.
    Both federal Tory and Liberal govts. have carried on the same practice with the fund while cutting back benefits and making up more and more hoops for the unemployed, who pay into the fund outta every cheque, to jump through to collect when they find themselves outta a job.

  • Avatar w101 says:

    The 9 most terrifying words in the English language.. "I'm from the government and I'm here to help"
    BC ferries may not be perfect, but please keep a 100% government control at bay.. Far, far at bay.. "

  • Avatar w101 says:

    Well said! BC Hydro 2 tier/step rate billing is government! -2 tier/step billing hurts low income renters "stuck" with electric heat and yet they do nothing about it... Imagine if when we filled our gas tank you would be charged a higher rate once you go past 30 liters of fuel.. Or if you consumed 3L of milk, but once you hit 4L per week you will pay more at a second tier for consuming "too much".. --Nuts

  • Avatar SSIDancer says:


  • Avatar Tanya Schulz says:

    Gosh, don't give them ideas! LOL

  • Avatar Tanya Schulz says:

    I am uncertain what that has to do with BC Ferries.