BC Ferries may get tougher, not more lenient, on people who refuse to leave their cars on lower decks.

Transport Canada is going through over 1,000 reports of BC Ferries passengers refusing to leave their vehicles on enclosed decks.

Early on in the pandemic, people were allowed to stay in their vehicles on enclosed decks, but Transport Canada rescinded that at the end of September.

Transport Canada says the majority of the reports of non-compliance were from the first few weeks after the Sept. 30 change. 

The department says reports have significantly decreased since then, thanks to more education and the joint Transport Canada-RCMP patrols.

Transport Canada says easing the rule was a temporary measure earlier this year as we learned more about the spread of COVID-19. 

However, Transport Canada senior communications advisor, Sau Sau Liu, said that “due to the inherent safety risk and potential for catastrophic loss of life,” this temporary measure was rescinded.

Liu says “based on the facts and the appropriate level of action required, Transport Canada may issue an administrative monetary penalty.” 

That could range from $600 to $12,000, under Section 152(1) of the Cargo, Fumigation and Tackle Regulations.

“Our inspectors will assess the reports and determine the appropriate level of enforcement action,” Lui said. 

More information about the enforcement strategy can be found here.

Liu says everyone must do their part to keep fellow Canadians and our transportation system safe. 

“This means crews and travellers must follow the latest health protection measures of the Public Health Agency of Canada, provincial, territorial, local health authority orders and requirements.” 

“We remind passengers to contact their ferry operator before travelling if they have concerns or special circumstances such as quarantine requirements, medical difficulties, challenges or special needs that may limit them from exiting their vehicle,” Liu added.

The company says “Ferry travellers do not need to choose between personal safety and marine safety. By physical distancing, wearing a mask and leaving the enclosed vehicle deck while the ferry is operating, passengers and crew can stay safe.”