Religious accommodation: the case-by-case basis remains

Accommodements religieux: le cas par cas subsiste

Accommodations for religious reasons will be granted on a case-by-case basis in Quebec. The minister of Justice Stéphanie Vallée released on Wednesday the first guidelines on the subject, which does not however give any specific example of what is reasonable or not.

“We can’t do the ready-to-wear in this folder-there”, has defended Ms Valley. The guidelines of the liberal government, very expected, had the objective of clarifying the act 62 passed last fall and to give tags to those who must take decisions in this type of case.

They, however, continue to rely on broad principles, and not on examples. What makes an accommodation request could be granted in a school in Montreal, but that a similar scheme would not be granted in a school in Quebec, for example. For Ms. Valley, it is not a problem, given that each person is unique, and each organization also.

Is it that taxing a glass frosted in a training centre is reasonable? The minister does not want to come to a decision. Is it that a teacher can take leave for a reason that religious? “It depends,” says the minister. Ms. Valley does not want to decide on the wearing of the burqa, given that the issue of the open face, the section 10 of the act, is challenged before the courts.

By 1 July, the date of entry into force of certain sections of the act 62, all public agencies in Québec will be required to appoint a sponsor who will have the task of judging the accommodation requests. Training will be given by the ministry of Justice to the respondents, so that they evaluate to the best queries. No record of accommodation requests will not be created, so that managers will not have examples on which to rely.

If a person considers himself aggrieved, it may, as is the case at present, to appeal the decision to accommodate to the Commission on human rights and youth. Public policy makers will have to comply with the case law that is built from the decisions of the Commission.

Bouchard-Taylor

Mrs. Valley explained that these guidelines have been drafted in the spirit of the report, Bouchard-Taylor, filed 10 years ago. MESSRS. Bouchard and Taylor have also been consulted during the drafting of the guidelines, so that they correspond to “their wishes”.

These guidelines have been criticized by the Parti québécois, who believe that they do not solve anything. “The hot potato will still be on the shoulders of those who will be in front of the person who is requesting accommodation,” says the mna Agnès Maltais.

According to it, the managers are not better equipped now to respond to 500 requests for accommodations that are made in the schools of the province each year. The PQ believes that the liberal law is not strong enough and is proposing to enact a real law on secularity if it came to power.

“Stéphanie Vallée opens the door to an accommodation religious to the niqab and the burqa if the belief is “sincere”,” the mna Nathalie Roy, the Coalition avenir Québec. It is estimated that managers will be even more confused reading these guidelines. The act 62, “it was a mess, now it’s a mess!”

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THE SIX GUIDELINES

– The application must be the result of the application of article 10 of the Charter of rights and freedoms of the person.

– The request must be serious, based on a sincere belief and made in good faith so as not to provide an undue advantage to the applicant.

We must respect the equality between men and women, as well as the right of every person to be treated without discrimination of origin, gender, age, beliefs or disability.

– The accommodation requested must allow the State to remain neutral.

– The request must be reasonable and not impose an undue hardship from a financial point of view or have a negative impact on the functioning of the organization concerned.

– The applicant has cooperated in seeking a solution that satisfies the reasonableness. With The canadian Press

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