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Recommendations point to lack of accountability, need for affordability

VICTORIA— A report released today by B.C. Ferry Commissioner Gord Macatee provides more evidence of the Liberal government’s failure to ensure the corporation is accountable to ferry users and exposes major flaws with the B.C. Liberals’ Coastal Ferry Act, says New Democrat ferry critic Gary Coons.

“The Liberals promised families and communities stability when they brought in the Coastal Ferry Act in 2003– yet since then, fares have increased by 80 per cent on minor routes and 47 per cent on major routes while ridership has plummeted, leaving our ferry system on the brink,” said Coons. “It’s no wonder that ferry users told the commissioner that they don’t feel the Coastal Ferries Act is working for them.”

According to the Commissioner, “current ferry fares and the proposed increases have reached the tipping point of affordability and are imposing significant hardship on ferry dependent communities and the ability of people to visit family members and friends as frequently as they would like.”

The report made 24 recommendations on how to decrease the cost of the ferry system and increase its revenues, and proposed sweeping changes aimed at making the corporation more accountable.

“It’s clear that the Liberals’ failed to ensure that ferry dependent communities’ interests would be protected when they restructured our ferry system,” said Coons. “Their failure to ensure the corporation would be accountable to British Columbians has taken money out of the pockets of families and put our ferries system in disarray.”

Coons noted this is the third investigation which has uncovered a need for greater oversight and accountability at B.C. Ferries.

“After years of unrealistic executive salaries, and out of control spending on advertising and corporate perks, it seems like everyone except the Liberals know that there is a disturbing accountability gap at B.C. Ferries,” said Coons. “This is the third report outlining the need for improved oversight of B.C. Ferries – it’s time for the Liberals to get to work.”

Adrian Dix and the New Democrats understand that the ferry system is a vital link to our coastal communities that needs to be accessible and affordable for families.