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BC Ferry layoffs sign of privatization failure: Coons

Job cuts at B.C. Ferry Services Inc. are another sign the publicly owned company is having serious financial problems, said NDP ferry critic and North Coast MLA Gary Coons.

Around 35 managers lost their jobs Friday, he said, and the number of jobs cut is expected to climb to close to 100.

“Obviously B.C. Ferries is having serious financial problems,” Coons said. “We're seeing the dismal failure of this privatization scheme.”

A call to B.C. Ferries' media line was not returned by publication time. Nor was transportation minister Kevin Falcon available. A ministry official said Falcon would not comment until B.C. Ferries makes a public statement on the layoffs.

In 2003 the B.C. Liberal government restructured the crown corporation into a private company. The government still owns the company and will spend $168 million on it this fiscal year. Since 2003 B.C. Ferries has accumulated $1.26 billion in long-term debt.

As a crown corporation BC Ferries used to have to report how many employees it had. Since 2003 it has not, but Coons said there are indications management has ballooned at the company. One source tells him the number of managers has doubled since 2003, he said, while a comparison of company phone books shows there are now 37 percent more managers than there were in 1993.

Job postings in the last few years have included positions for an Elevator/Escalator Systems Manager and a Menu and Recipe Development Manager, he said.

The company also recently said it plans to move its head office into a space that will be about 50 percent larger than what it now has at Fleet House in downtown Victoria.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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