Frontenac Islands Mayor Judy Greenwood-Speers could only express frustration and concern after the latest disruption in service, which shut down access to and from Wolfe island for 13 hours overnight Sunday into Monday.
“It is not working. It’s costing us business, economic development, tourism,” Greenwood-Speers said.
Tweets from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation blamed a staffing shortage — something president of OPSEU local 428, Jody Pringle, says is an ongoing problem because of pay
“We need to up the wages to try and keep people,” Pringle said.
He represents ferry workers for the Wolfe island, Amherst and Glenora ferries. He says wages and benefits are not competitive with the private sector where workers can make as much as $850 a day.
“We’re not looking to get $850 a day, we’re just looking to find something in between there that works for both sides to retain people.”
Pringle says mental health is a growing issue for workers as well and may be contributing to absences, adding that ferry staff are bearing the brunt of peoples’ frustration over the ferry disruptions.
“Peoples’ lives are being threatened. You know, people say, ‘I’m going to shoot you, I’m going to stab you.’ They’re being heckled, screamed at, given the finger on a daily basis.”
Stunning 3D images of Titanic give unprecedented glimpse of doomed ship
Edmonton man says vehicle rammed 20 times on Henday during carjacking spree
Global News reached out to the Ministry of Transportation for comments on the staffing shortages, but no response was received by deadline. Frontenac Islands mayor and council have sent letters calling for the minister to get directly involved to resolve the issue.
It’s a call that has been echoed by MPP Ted Hsu.
“I’ve been trying to contact the minister’s office over and over again to see what kind of update she got and what she might be able to do. I haven’t got any reply yet but I’ll keep trying to contact her.”
Hsu says he’s also been working with other MPPs facing similar issues with MTO staffing of ferries.
In the interim, for those that use the Wolfe island ferry, the question is less will there be another ferry shutdown but when.
© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.