BC Ferries is experiencing heavy traffic with long weekend travellers heading back to the Lower Mainland. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)

EDITORIAL: Vehicle deck ban places BC Ferry passengers’ health at risk

What do you think? Email editor@vicnews.com

British Columbia residents are stepping up their efforts in the fight against COVID-19, doing all that they can to stop the spread of the virus. That is until they board a BC Ferry.

As COVID cases spike across the province and around the globe, ferry passengers are still being forced from the safe confines of their vehicles and into the congested corridors of ferries.

Transport Canada reintroduced the ban on passengers in enclosed car decks on Sept. 30, after relaxing the ban on March 17 at the onset of the pandemic. The pandemic hasn’t gone away, in fact cases have spiked in recent weeks, yet the federal government seems to have little interest in preventing its spread.

Premier John Horgan expressed his frustration when the ban was reintroduced, and said steps would be taken to convince Transport Canada to reconsider. One month later, it’s becoming clear that ship has sailed.

ALSO READ: Horgan frustrated as Transport Canada mandate for BC Ferry riders returns

The ban was first introduced in October 2017, ostensibly in response to the 2006 sinking of the Queen of the North. Two passengers went missing and have never been found, however, there has never been any indication that the passengers were trapped on the lower vehicle deck.

And while there is no record of anyone being killed as a result of being trapped on the lower deck of a BC Ferry, more than 250 British Columbians have died from COVID-19 in the past several months. And latest information shows your chances of contracting that deadly virus are greatly increased in crowded surroundings, with or without a mask.

Health officials and political leaders at both the provincial and federal level must step up efforts to pressure Transport Canada to rescind a ban that goes against the most basic principles of social distancing.

While protecting ferry passengers against a risk that can only be described as infinitesimal, Transport Canada is turning a blind eye to a pandemic that has claimed over a million lives worldwide.

The Island has so far avoided much of the devastation this virus has inflicted on other parts of the world, but time is not on our side.

Editorials

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A report by investigator Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond found “widespread systemic racism against Indigenous people” in a report released Monday.
Investigation finds ‘widespread systemic racism against Indigenous people’ in provincial health care

The report could not confirm allegations of coordinated alcohol-blood level guessing game

A wind warning is in effect for Greater Victoria Monday morning. (Black Press Media file photo)
Strong wind whips Greater Victoria

Winds predicted to subside by Monday afternoon

Classes are cancelled at Royal Bay Secondary School and other schools Nov. 30 due to power outages. (Black Press Media file photo)
Classes cancelled across the West Shore, Sooke due to power outages

Students can be picked up but facilities remain open

Victoria police issued tickets to two Victoria party hosts Saturday night, according to VicPD Chief Del Manak. (Unsplash)
Victoria partiers hid in closets, bedrooms in an attempt to avoid fines

Police gave out COVID-19 tickets to two separate parties

Island Health has confirmed the first long term care facility outbreak in Greater Victoria at Veterans Memorial Lodge in Saanich. (Google Maps)
Island Health records first long-term care COVID outbreak in Greater Victoria

Veterans Memorial Lodge in Saanich confirms one positive staff member

A bus shelter in White Rock is emblazoned with an ad from B.C.’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. (Black Press Media files)
VIDEO: ‘Am I racist?’ campaign asks British Columbians to confront their unconscious biases

Signs asking British Columbians to think about racial injustice have been put up across the province

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Jim Neufeld, 55, was last seen leaving his home in Penticton Jan. 21, 2009. (RCMP photo)
Human remains found off U.S. coast in 2009 identified as Penticton man

Jim Neufeld, 55, was last seen leaving his home in Penticton Jan. 21, 2009

Remains of the scene off Melrose Road in Whiskey Creek where three bodies were found on Nov. 1, 2020. (Mandy Moraes photo)
Probe continues into grisly mid-Island discovery of 3 human bodies, 4 dead dogs

Police still want to speak with motorist who picked up hitchhikers near scene on Nov. 1

An man from Errington died when his ATV went over an embankment on Northwest Bay Logging Road on the weekend. (File photo)
ATV rider goes over embankment and dies on back road near Nanaimo

45-year-old man from Errington died in incident Saturday afternoon

The Nov. 20 WestJet flight 3171 has been identified by the BC Centre for Disease Control with a COVID case aboard. (Black Press file photo)
Fifth COVID-19 exposure reported on flight at Comox airport

Another exposure risk from flight originating in Calgary

(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
B.C. care home looks to hire residents’ family members amid COVID-19-related staff shortage

Family would get paid as temporary workers, while having chance to see loved ones while wearing PPE

B.C. Finance Minister Carole James and Premier John Horgan announce $5 billion emergency fund for COVID-19 unemployment and other relief, B.C. legislature, March 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
Carole James stays on to advise B.C. Premier John Horgan

Retired finance minister to earn a dollar a year

Most Read