Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) says the Quebec government’s new legislation on religious neutrality is clearly discriminatory and puts workers in an untenable situation.

The legislation imposes dubious restrictions on religious accommodation and includes controversial rules which prevent anyone who covers their face from giving or receiving public services. Women who wear face veils as part of religious practice have decried the Bill as a violation of their freedom of religion and of expression, as they already show their faces upon request for identification and security purposes.

Bill 62 applies to Quebec ministries, school boards, universities, public health care institutions, subsidized daycare centres, municipalities, public transit authorities, doctors, dentists, and other health care professionals.

Provincial legislators have not provided any clear guidelines, nor outlined the consequences workers will face should they object to the discriminatory nature of the law.

“This is a harmful, undemocratic, and unnecessary bill that violates the fundamental freedoms of women through state control over their bodies,” says CLC President Hassan Yussuff. “The CLC unequivocally condemns any law which creates two classes of citizens in our country.”

To date, one bus driver may face sanctions for publicly showing support to a protest against the Bill that took place last Friday in Montreal.

Further, the union representing workers at the STM, the Montreal public transit authority, has stated that bus drivers do not want the responsibility of having to interpret the law. Nor should they have to.

“Every Canadian is fully entitled to the rights promised to them under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as well as provincial human rights codes,” says Yussuff. “It’s wrong to ask workers to participate in the violation of those rights – especially while delivering the public services every Quebec resident is entitled to receive.”