Latest News
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Trouble in the water: CEO fired in shakeup at BC Ferries

Collins's dismissal the latest domino in a ferry service still struggling with staffing shortages

Latest News
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Trouble in the water: CEO fired in shakeup at BC Ferries

Collins's dismissal the latest domino in a ferry service still struggling with staffing shortages

Photo: James MacDonald / Capital Daily
Photo: James MacDonald / Capital Daily
Latest News
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Trouble in the water: CEO fired in shakeup at BC Ferries

Collins's dismissal the latest domino in a ferry service still struggling with staffing shortages

Get the news and events in Victoria, in your inbox every morning.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Trouble in the water: CEO fired in shakeup at BC Ferries
Photo: James MacDonald / Capital Daily

Friday morning, BC Ferries announced that it had fired its CEO, Mark Collins, effective immediately, and named Jill Sharland as its Interim President and CEO.

The company has been plagued by staffing issues, with Thursday’s 18 cancelled sailings to Gabriola Island the latest symptom of a long-standing global mariner shortage. 

These cancellations are more than just a nuisance. Global News reported that Quadra Island residents are concerned about safety. Without a hospital on the island, residents rely on ferry service to transport patients to the nearest hospital in Campbell River in an emergency. This service, however, has been sidelined from staffing shortages.

Support Your Community, Support Local Journalism

With paid membership, every penny goes directly to helping our newsroom continue its work and helps our team grow and expand our coverage

Become an Insider

As recently as May, Collins told Capital Daily the risk of ferry cancellations had gone “way down,” due to the ferry service’s hiring spree. From January to May, the company brought on roughly 150 new workers—but Collins admitted the service still struggled with a shortage of senior officers.

“Too many berths chasing too few workers,” is how he described it.

As we previously reported, BC Ferries has long ignored warnings about a skills shortage and failed to create an adequate succession plan for its aging workforce.  

As far back as 1992, the company participated in a human resources study that projected a skills shortage. And in 2008, a report on the Canadian marine industry described a “burning platform situation vis-à-vis human resources.” Retired mariners told Capital Daily that they’d urged BC Ferries to provide opportunities for certificate advancement, to no avail.

Eric McNeely, president of the BC Ferry and Marine Workers' Union, says that in addition to grappling with the difficulties posed  by the mariner shortage and the pandemic, BC Ferries has recently struggled to retain workers, many of whom are burned out from having to come in on their days off to keep the ferry service running. 

McNeely told Capital Daily that the union recently raised concerns about BC Ferries’ leadership with the BC Ferry Services Board, and the BC Ferry Authority. After speaking with Sharland, he said, he’s optimistic that the shakeup will lead to “quick cultural shifts” and “breathing room” to work on employee retention while the company figures out long-term solutions for making the ferry service more reliable.

Capital Daily reached out for an interview with BC Ferries on Friday, but the request was declined.

Correction on Jul. 27 at 11am: The original story stated that the BC Ferry Commission was among the places the union reached out to about leadership concerns. McNeely now says that while the union did approach the Ferry Commission, it was not about leadership concerns. What it was about, he declined to say.

Support Your Community, Support Local Journalism

With paid membership, every penny goes directly to helping our newsroom continue its work and helps our team grow and expand our coverage

Become an Insider

Related News

More Victorians are cycling, walking to work: Latest census data
Stay connected to your city with the Capital Daily newsletter.
By filling out the form above, you agree to receive emails from Capital Daily. You can unsubscribe at any time.