THE World Sikh Organization and several community organizations, including the Centre for Israel & Jewish Affairs (CIJA), National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), Bahá’í Community of Canada and The Mosaic Institute, have written to Ontario Minister of Health Christine Elliott, calling for the accommodation of Sikh paramedics and others who maintain beards as a part of their religious observance.
It was reported last week that a Sikh paramedic in Hamilton was taken off the road because of the introduction of a new helmet, which in turn requires the new respirator model that is impeded by long beards.
Peel Regional Paramedic Services does currently accommodate Sikh paramedics because there are so few situations when a paramedic has to wear a helmet and a respirator at the same time.
The letter sent to Elliott:
We are writing to urge you to ensure Sikh paramedics and others who maintain beards as a part of their religious observance can continue to perform their crucial life-saving duties.
It has come to our attention that recent changes to the required equipment for paramedics in Ontario has restricted the ability of some to continue to perform their professional duties while at the same time upholding their faith.
Specifically, the introduction of a new helmet necessitates the use of a respirator incompatible with long beards, a barrier to those paramedics who grow their beards as a religious observance.
Reports that the Ministry of Health rejected a previous request made by the Hamilton Paramedic Services to find a solution are concerning. We urge you to take swift action to resolve this situation so that paramedics in Ontario can continue to save lives in all situations, regardless of their faith.
Sharanjeet Kaur, Vice-President for Ontario, World Sikh Organization of Canada
Richard Marceau, Vice President, The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs
Geoffrey Cameron, Director, Office of Public Affairs, Bahá’í Community of Canada
Akaash Maharaj, Chief Executive Officer, The Mosaic Institute
Mustafa Farooq, Executive Director, National Council of Canadian Muslims