MONTREAL (JTA) – Montreal’s Jewish General Hospital says it plans to defy Quebec’sÂ controversial Charter of Secular Values.
The proposed law, known as Bill 60, is “patently discriminatory,”Â the hospital said in a statement Nov. 13.
The bill, proposed by the governing Parti Quebecois to establishÂ what it has called religious neutrality and gender equality, would banÂ all “conspicuous” and “overt” religious symbols in the public sector.
That would include hijabs, kippahs and turbans worn by civilÂ servants, daycare workers, doctors, nurses, police officers and others.
The proposed law is “deeply insulting” to public-sector workers, theÂ hospital said.
“This bill is flawed and contrary to Quebec’s spirit ofÂ inclusiveness and tolerance,” said the hospital’s new executiveÂ director, Dr. Lawrence Rosenberg.
“For nearly 80 years, the JGH has prided itself on the fact that itsÂ staff, representing a wide diversity of faiths, with many employeesÂ wearing conspicuous items of clothing with religious symbols, hasÂ provided care of superior quality to Quebecers of all backgrounds.”
The hospital, founded in 1934 partly in response to prejudice JewsÂ faced getting treatment and entering medical professions in ChristianÂ institutions, will not ask for an exemption under the bill.
“Since the bill is inherently prejudicial, there is no point inÂ taking advantage of any clause that would grant us temporary, short-termÂ relief,” Rosenberg added.
If passed, “this offensive legislation would make it extremelyÂ difficult for the JGH to function as an exemplary member of Quebec’sÂ public healthcare system.”
The hospital said its position will be submitted to Quebec’sÂ legislature at a later date.