Proposed legislation could seriously hamper recruitment efforts, force staff to leave

The Jewish General Hospital (JGH) is reaffirming its opposition to Bill 60 – which it believes would be an affront to universal civil rights and values. In its 45 page brief submitted to the National Assembly, the JGH states that it strongly opposes Bill 60 on the grounds that banning overt religious symbols in the clothing of healthcare employees is profoundly discriminatory and deeply insulting to public-sector workers. The JGH also rejects the Government’s fundamental premise that State neutrality is manifested by exerting control over the clothing or other physical attributes of public-sector employees.

“The JGH unequivocally opposes the spirit and letter of Bill 60, a piece of legislation which states that the delivery of healthcare services would be compromised by religious symbols in the clothing of employees,” says Dr. Lawrence Rosenberg, JGH Executive Director. “As long as healthcare services are delivered with professional competence, courtesy, and respect, no legislation should be permitted to override the freedoms of religion or expression that are guaranteed by the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

In this brief the JGH demonstrates that it espouses these universal values of respect, tolerance, justice and freedom, explains Dr. Rosenberg. “In no way can the hospital envision supporting a piece of legislation that seeks to undermine these fundamental rights.”

For eight decades the JGH has upheld these universal rights and prided itself on the fact that its staff – representing a wide diversity of faiths, with a number employees wearing conspicuous items of clothing with religious symbols – has provided care of superior quality to Quebecers of all backgrounds. As such, the JGH sees Bill 60 as trying to reverse decades of achievement for which all Quebecers take pride – namely, a society in which the rights of minorities are honoured and protected at all times and in all circumstances.

Since the bill is in direct contradiction to the values not only upheld by the JGH but also of those guaranteed to all people, the hospital could not in good conscience implement a policy in line with the requirements of the proposed legislation. Rather, the JGH, in partnership with other like-minded institutions, would choose to legally challenge the bill’s implementation.

To read the full JGH brief, click here.

To read McGill’s brief, click here.

Click here to download the SMHC brief.

Click here to view a thought-provoking video independently produced by Ari Grunzeweig of Imagination Creations on the Charter of Quebec Values that was recorded around the Jewish General Hospital.

Click here to read the join McGill Academic Health Network response to the proposed Charter of Values.

Click here to read the position statement of the McGill Nursing Undergraduate Society.

Click here to read the statement from the McGill Medical Students Society.

Click here to read an article in the Montreal Gazette about McGill residents’ opposition to the proposed Charter of Values.

Click here to read about the MUHC submission on Bill 60.