Horgan vows NDP government would bring back free weekday ferry travel for B.C. seniors

BC NDP Leader John Horgan is vowing to bring back free weekday passage for seniors on BC Ferries.

During a quick campaign announcement on a sandy beach at Swartz Bay in North Saanich April 20, Horgan and supporters who used to benefit from seniors discounts on the ferries, talked about the free or discounted fares dropped by the BC Liberals — and the NDP’s promise to return to the practice, should they form the next provincial government.

“We have a range of seniors issues we have been focusing on during the campaign … we’re going to make sure that we reduce the costs for the minor (ferry) routes by 15 per cent,” Horgan announced. “We’re gonna freeze ferry fares while we get to the bottom of how we’re going to make our coastal highway … better for all British Columbians.”

Rolled into the NDP campaign promise is bringing back free weekday ferry travel on major routes for seniors.

Horgan said he heard from people who used to use the ferry system more often, about how that has curtailed their travel and their friendships.

Roger and Lil Soleil-Garbutt used to go back and forth to Vancouver. Roger said they have a friend there that they would meet often on the ferry as they traveled back and forth.

“We used to see them quite frequently,” he said, “but the age, the time and money starts to impact on you. It’s those small things that matter, that make life worthwhile.”

The older couple from the Saanich Peninsula noted they don’t travel on the ferries as often any more and try to use them on their longer trips to the mainland.

“We’d like to help our own economy and our own area,” Roger said, “but going on the ferry has become a very limited thing.”

Horgan said seniors issues that include ferry fares and medical services premiums will be eliminated during the first term of an NDP government.

“We’ve introduced a $400 renter’s rebate. That’s going to be good for seniors, that’s going to be good for all renters right across the province. And that will not have an impact on the safer supplement that’s in place today. Seniors can count on that and they can count on 400 bucks to help pay their rent.”

Horgan also said the NDP would freeze Hydro rates and reverse “a Liberal plan” to increase car insurance rates by 42 per cent.

“That’s how you build a better B.C.”

Saanich North and the Islands NDP candidate Gary Holman said today’s announcement addresses one of the biggest issues facing the southern Gulf Islands — ferry service.

“They are part of our main highway and the principle has been reneged on by the Liberal government for the last 16 years. We’re turning that ship around.”

Holman said that his leader’s promise to review B.C.’s crown corporations will make a difference in the affordability of services like ferry travel, vehicle insurance and more.

“ICBC, Hydro and BC Ferries have quite literally taken billions of dollars from the B.C. economy and hundreds of millions from this region. Those campaign commitment to freeze fares … are going to be important to local economies.”

Horgan was presented with an eagle feather by Vern Jacks of the Tseycum First Nation. Jacks said the feather is a symbol of respect. He said Horgan has come a long way since they first met years ago and has earned it.