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Expenses high while BC Ferries considers service cuts: union president

At a time when BC Ferries is looking at cutting services, it should first try to reduce what it is spending on management expenses, said Chris Abbott, the president of the BC Ferries and Marine Workers' Union.

The publicly owned ferry company reimbursed nearly $1.9 million for expenses in 2012, according to a document released in response to a freedom of information request from the BC Coastal Transportation Society.

"Obviously a huge amount of money is involved," said Abbott. "It seems an awful lot of money for basically a Crown corporation that has a monopoly on things."

The release includes expense figures by position for each year from 2006 to 2012, as well as for the chairs of the Ferry Advisory Committees.

Abbott noted that in 2012 expenses for chief engineers were $9,300 on average, up from $4,700 in 2011. "That's just about double."

The jump may have had something to do with chief engineers who came to BC Ferries from the navy and required certification courses, but it is impossible to tell from what the company released, he said.

An email to a BC Ferries spokesperson did not receive a response by publication time.

The records show that the president and CEO, a position now held by Mike Corrigan, receive $28,280 for expenses in 2012.

From 2006 to 2008 the executive vice-president for new vessel construction and industry affairs had nearly $140,000 in expenses. The position was then held by Captain Trafford Taylor, a period when BC Ferries was having new vessels built in Germany.

Considering BC Ferries is looking to trim costs by cutting its core services, the expenses are high, said Abbott. "If you're looking to cut service, you should be looking at just about everything else."

Since much taxpayer money funds BC Ferries, the expenses should be made public automatically, he said.

The BCCTS paid $2,752.50 to have the records released, but is applying to have the fee waived. The advocacy group posted some thoughts about the records on its website.

BC Ferries delayed the release of the records until after the May 14 election, The Tyee reported.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee's Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Find him on Twitter or reach him here.

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