The Jewish General Hospital (JGH) strongly opposes Bill 60, and on the grounds that the plan by the current Government of Quebec to ban overt religious symbols in the clothing of healthcare employees is discriminatory and deeply insulting to public-sector workers.

Contrary to statements in the bill, the JGH believes that neutrality in the delivery of healthcare services is not compromised by religious symbols in the clothing of employees. As long as services are delivered with professional competence, courtesy and respect, no legislation should be allowed to override the freedoms of religion or expression that are guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and by the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.

“This bill is flawed and contrary to Quebec’s spirit of inclusiveness and tolerance,” says Dr. Lawrence Rosenberg, JGH Executive Director. “Since the bill is inherently prejudicial, there is no point in taking advantage of any clause that would grant us temporary, short-term relief. If approved, this offensive legislation would make it extremely difficult for the JGH to function as an exemplary member of Quebec’s public healthcare system.” Dr. Rosenberg’s statement is endorsed by the JGH Board of Directors.

For nearly 80 years, the JGH has prided itself on the fact that its staff—representing a wide diversity of faiths, with many employees wearing conspicuous items of clothing with religious symbols—has provided care of superior quality to Quebecers of all backgrounds. JGH patients continue to come to this hospital in ever-increasing numbers with only one thought in mind: to receive treatment and care of the highest quality. This is what matters most to residents of the hospital’s Côte-des-Neiges area, which is widely regarded as one of the most ethnically, racially, culturally, linguistically and religiously diverse neighbourhoods in Canada. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that the JGH receives no complaints about the religious or cultural apparel of its staff.

A brief outlining the position of the Jewish General Hospital will be submitted to the National Assembly at a later date.

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