It is true that the contracts between the Ministry of Transportation and the employers build in an amount for wage increases to the service fee. However, the contract does not restrict the employer from allocating more than this amount to wages and benefits, or to training. In other words, the employer is allowed to redirect funds from their profit margins to their employees.
And they can afford to do this. The profitability of their companies is significant. They regularly fly in out-of-town temporary hires to ensure ferries can sail, which is expensive. Between 2003 and 2019, the operating contract has increased from $3.78 million to $9.1 million. Wages and investment in training have not matched this rate. The employer can choose to do different than what they’ve been doing, to provide a sustainable service to the community.