Transport Canada safe staffing standards require three particular positions to be on board the vessel to sail: captain, mate, bridgewatch, engineer, oiler, and deckhand.
We currently have three full-time captains and three full-time mates. All are nearing the age of retirement. The employer has made no succession plan nor are they ‘training up’ existing employees for these positions. Instead, they rely on committed retirees or overtime from the few employees – neither of which are sustainable.
Also, we currently have four engineer positions but one has been vacant for almost a year because of the subpar compensation offered by the employer. Again, the employer has been relying on committed retirees and overtime, as well as favours from friends, to fill this required role.
Given the number of sailings needed by the community, we quickly use up the regular time availability of these workers. Without committed retirees and excessive overtime by the small group of workers we do have, ferries would not be sailing as much as they have been. Many of our retiring employees would prefer to train apprentices, but are not given the chance. And there are many local workers willing to be trained and grow their careers in the community. But we need the employer to invest in succession planning, sufficient training and on-par compensation.