PQ's values charter might force MDs to leave: Sikh doctor
A physician from Quebec's Sikh community says health-care workers like himself would likely be forced to leave the province if the government bans public employees from wearing religious symbols in the workplace.
A recent media report published leaked details of the controversial Parti Quebecois proposal — saying it would prohibit people like doctors, teachers and public-daycare workers from donning turbans, kippas and hijabs at work.
Dr. Sanjeet Singh Saluja wears a turban as part of his faith and he says the PQ's controversial "Charter of Quebec Values'' would drive away people from the Sikh, Jewish and Muslim communities.
The emergency-room doctor says this type of legislation could have a significant impact on hospital wait times in Montreal because many resident physicians in the city come from Middle Eastern countries and wear hijabs.
The Montreal-born Saluja says the young doctors would choose other provinces over Quebec if they didn't feel welcome here.
The PQ minority government hopes to win votes by championing a "secularism'' plan that polls have suggested has considerable support in the province.
The government says it expects to present the charter this fall — although it's not clear yet that the plan will get support from the opposition, who hold a majority of seats in the legislature.
Saluja was raised in Quebec and says he doesn't believe such a policy would ever pass in Quebec because he has never known it to be a closed-minded place.
According to the leaked details in a tabloid newspaper, the proposal would let culturally specific hospitals — like Montreal's Jewish General — seek an exemption.
The same newspaper has interviewed hijab-wearing day-care workers who say they would quit their jobs if forced to choose between their religious beliefs and their work.
Quebec has been bleeding residents to other provinces for decades, with net losses in migration that have diminished the province's economic and political clout.
Its political weight consisted of 27 per cent of the House of Commons seats in the late 1970s, is 24 per cent today, and will drop to 23 per cent in the next federal election.