Letter to the editor, June 11, 2020

Will COVID-19 kill Bill 21?

Dear Editor,

The government of Quebec has released precautionary medical guidelines that encourage Quebecers to cover their faces to limit the spread of COVID-19. The guidelines urge Quebecers to wear face coverings, like bandanas and scarves, in public places and spaces where social distancing cannot be maintained.

As daycares and schools begin to open up around the province, teachers and childcare workers are strongly encouraged to do so. If public service workers, like teachers, are encouraged to cover their faces, what does this mean for Bill 21?

The infamous Bill 21 prohibits wearing head coverings for public service workers in the name of Quebec's cultural values and secularism.

I fail to see a vast difference between coverings of the head, and portions of the face. Would the government be okay with a covering on the face portion of the head but not directly on the top? Maybe according to the CAQ, Quebec's culture is dependent on an exposed scalp. I'm hopeful that these new recommendations will make Bill 21 unenforceable and particularly silly.

While the CAQ's desire for "national unity" in Quebec and an increase in Quebec Nationalism is a genuine intention, the tactics like Bill 21, which aim to limit diversity and religious freedom, are divisive, xenophobic, and, dangerous for Quebec's minorities.

With Quebec opening up childcare, the need for teachers and childcare professionals will rise again. I hope the CAQ will welcome all childcare professionals regardless if their coverings are only on their face or on their face and head.

As I'm a firm believer that culture in Quebec embraces diversity and religious pluralism, Bill 21 does not.

Sabrina Lamontagne


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