July 28th, 2020
Johns Calls on Federal Government to Provide Emergency Wage Benefits to BC Ferries
PORT ALBERNI — Gord Johns, Member of Parliament and NDP Critic for Tourism, is calling on the Liberal government to amend the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) to allow BC Ferries to apply for benefits.
In a letter to Finance Minister Bill Morneau dated July 28, Johns says that the ferries “are a critical component of the social and economic life of coastal communities”. Without access to federal support, Johns says that BC Ferries will be forced to cut sailings and reduce the services that local small businesses and workers rely on across Vancouver Island, Denman Island, and Hornby Island
He told the Minister that the operation of the ferries has been significantly disrupted due to the COVID-19 public health emergency and it needs help to protect jobs.
BC Ferries is an independent company operating at arms length from the provincial government and is mostly dependent on fares to sustain services. The reduction of sailings has caused an 80 per cent revenue loss and undermined its ability to keep its staff employed. The federal government has deemed the company as a “public-sector entity” and not eligible for emergency wage benefits.
The Canadian Ferry Association estimates losses in the sector, which is federally regulated, to be over $450 million.
"I urge you to amend the eligibility criteria of CEWS to allow BC Ferries to access the program,” said Johns in the letter. “You can ensure that the essential work done by BC Ferries continues, protect the jobs it creates, and retain the essential connections between communities by allowing BC Ferries to access CEWS.”