Exemptions for Ferries

Classification: Unclassified

Branch/Agency: Transport Canada

Proposed Response:

If pressed:

If pressed on difference between cruise ships and ferries:

Ferries are not cruise ships. Cruise ships represent a very high-risk medium for viral transmission of infectious respiratory diseases like COVID-19. Close proximity and frequent interactions among passengers and crew make successful quarantines on board vessels virtually impossible.



Due to safety reasons, and recommendations by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada following a fire incident involving a ferry in Newfoundland and Labrador, passengers have not been allowed to remain in their vehicles on closed vehicle decks. In 2017, BC Ferries implemented new rules limiting passenger access to lower vehicle decks during sailings. This was done at the request of Transport Canada, and aligned BC Ferries with other Canadian ferry operators and international rules. This has garnered significant media attention in the Pacific Region.

The Canada Shipping Act, 2001, and the Cargo Fumigation and Tackle Regulations, Section 152, state that: Every passenger shall keep off a closed vehicle deck on a vessel that is under way unless the passenger:

These regulatory measures are based on recommendations by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada and are to ensure passenger safety.

In light of the risks and advice by the Public Health Agency of Canada around social distancing resulting from COVID-19, Transport Canada is working with ferry operators on provisions to allow passengers to stay in their vehicles.


Prepared by: Adriana Simedrea, Chief, Parliamentary Affairs, Transport Canada, 613-993-9177

Approved by: Jimmy Brackenridge, Director, Strategic Services, Transport Canada, 613-852-5763

Date modified: