BCF has zero tolerance towards abuse of staff

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Tuesday, November 5 2019

This past week, BC Ferries announced it has banned another person from using the BC Ferries system after the passenger who aggressively drove his motor vehicle towards an employee at the Langdale terminal on the morning of Oct. 15. 

According to a press release, the company has issued multiple one-year travel bans to passengers in the past month. 

On Oct. 15, a passenger left their assigned lane and aggressively drove towards a staff member at the Langdale terminal, forcing the employee to jump out of the way. 

On Oct. 17 a passenger threatened the use of a fire arm to an employee at the Horseshoe Bay terminal. 

On Oct. 22, a passenger assaulted an employee on the Coastal Celebration. 

Mark Collins, BC Ferries’ President & CEO said, “We are committed to providing our employees and passengers a safe and respectful environment. 

“The vast majority of our passengers treat our employees courteously. Abusive conduct or comments, or behaviours that put our employees or the public at risk, are not tolerated. These behaviours result in a denial of service, travel ban and the involvement of police agencies.” 

Deborah Marshall, Executive Director, of Public Affairs with BC Ferries said there have not been any bans put in place for the Nanaimo Harbour to Gabriola route.

Collins said if issues had come up due to the long line on the Gabriola side of the route - those incidents were dealt with by the local RCMP, not BC Ferries staff.

Overall, for the whole system, there have been seven year-long bans issued.

Collins said with regards to people getting home to Gabriola, or anywhere, BC Ferries cannot prohibit travel to a community.

“We can prohibit travel on BC Ferries. And that has happened with ferry-dependent communities.”

He said all incidents reported by staff to supervisors are called in to an operations centre.

 That centre assists the employees in the field, and decides if police should be brought in.

Collins said, “if you abuse an employee, you’re going to end up with a travel ban. If you assault an employee, you’re going to be talking to the police. Police sort out incidents that involve criminality.

“The vast number of our customers are polite and respectful, but for the small few, there is a  zero tolerance.”

BC Ferries has requested that for 15 days next summer, flaggers be hired to work the Gabriola ferry line.

Collins said it has yet to be determined if those will be BC Ferries staff or hired contractors. The zero-tolerance policy will be kept in place for contractors hired by BC Ferries - including the flaggers.

“If the contractor were to receive that abuse....we would view that as an offence against our own people.

“It’s so important we create the safe working spaces - just as I want to come to work safely, and you want to, our ship staff don’t give that up just because they’re working in a public space position. That doesn’t give anyone permission to abuse them. I think people have a misunderstanding of what an employee has signed up for. We are responsible to keep them safe. We have a zero tolerance, and we’ll back them up all the way.”