Are B.C.’s over-65 seniors helping reduce B.C. Ferries $19m deficit by having to pay half fares starting April 1, 2014? No.
Under the terms of the Coastal Ferry Services Contract between the B.C. Ferry Corp. and the province, seniors 65 years of age and in possession of a B.C. Care card may travel at 100 per cent discount Monday-Thursday and the province will reimburse B.C. Ferry Corp. So, unless the ferry corp. intends to collect the senior half fare and then bill the province for the full amount, the increased payment will have no impact on the ferry debt but, in effect, is a tax going to government coffers. There is nothing in the contract to suggest this scenario. I assume the “contract” will have to be amended. It hasn’t been to date.
Island seniors are fairly comfortable financially and have been enjoying a generous perk which is the envy of other citizens, so I find it difficult to whine about having to now pay half fare. There are certainly others measures being proposed by the corporation which will impact other users much more drastically.
What really annoys me is that at the same time as crying poor and cutting services, the ferry corporation is announcing that it is tendering contracts for three new ferries and casually mentions the fact that it has just spent $13m to upgrade one of the old “Queens” which is being immediately mothballed.
And then there are the perks that ferry staff and their family members continue to enjoy which, I understand, include free ferry travel including vehicles. Oh, I forgot, apparently executive bonuses are being abolished — yay — or are they being incorporated into their salary package and will, therefore, be factored into any future percentage increases? And on it goes.