Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives with Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam, left, for a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Friday, Sept. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Trudeau ‘disappointed’ by RCMP treatment of Sikh officers over mask issue

World Sikh Organization of Canada said taking Sikh officers off the front lines constitutes discrimination

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he is disappointed that Sikh RCMP officers have been removed from front line policing during the pandemic because their religiously mandated facial hair makes it difficult to properly wear a face covering.

The World Sikh Organization of Canada says officers have been placed on desk duty for almost six months, as the RCMP found the N100 mask does not seal with facial hair.

The organization says no attempt has been made to accommodate Sikh officers with other protective coverings that would work with beards.

Trudeau said Friday that health and safety regulations are extremely important and must be applied in workplaces across the country.

“But I was very disappointed to hear of this issue with the RCMP,” he added. “Because I do know that many other police forces and other organizations have figured out ways of upholding health and safety standards without needing to create discrimination against certain individuals because of their religion.”

The presence of diverse Canadians in police forces is extremely important for all Canadians, Trudeau said.

“It is something that I certainly hope the RCMP rectifies quickly, and it shouldn’t have happened in the first place.”

The RCMP had no immediate comment Friday.

Mary-Liz Power, a spokeswoman for Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, the cabinet member responsible for the RCMP, said the minister’s office had raised the matter with the Mounties and expected a resolution as quickly as possible.

“All officers must be given equal opportunity to serve their community while practising their faith. They must not experience discrimination based on religion,” Power said.

“It is essential for the RCMP to provide necessary personal protective equipment in a timely manner for Sikh officers.”

In a statement this week, World Sikh Organization of Canada president Tejinder Singh Sidhu said taking Sikh officers off the front lines constitutes discrimination.

“We have tried for months to assist the affected RCMP officers and advocate on their behalf but with no success and no response from the federal government. The discrimination against bearded Sikh officers must end immediately.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Leila Bui with her parents Tuan (left) and Kierry Bui. The family says they are relieved the trial process has come to close Monday morning with Tenessa Nikirk found guilty of dangerous driving causing bodily harm. (Black Press Media file photo)
Sentencing begins for Peninsula woman convicted of hitting Saanich girl

Leila Bui has been in a non-responsive state since she was hit in 2017

VicPD and B.C. Conservation Officer Service teamed up to free two bucks who were entangled in a fishing net and dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them. (VicPD)
VIDEO: Victoria police, B.C. Conservation help two bucks caught in one fishing net

Bucks were also dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them

Victoria police are looking for high-risk offender Douglas McPherson. (Courtesy of VicPD)
High-risk parolee with history of bank robbery believed to be in Victoria

Police ask for public’s help locating 64-year-old parolee

(Black Press Media file photo)
Police arrest suspect in Saanich liquor store break and enters

Windowpane removal key component in string of thefts

A development proposed for Victoria’s Old Town would include 274 rental units. (Rendering by Integra Architecture)
274-unit rental development proposed for Victoria’s Old Town

Project would take take over block with tire shop, parking lots

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson speaks during a drive-in car rally campaign stop at a tour bus operator, in Delta, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Andrew Wilkinson stepping down as B.C. Liberal leader

Will stay on until the next party leader is chosen

Campbell River's new hospital, July 2018
Nurse diverts opiates and falsifies records at Campbell River Hospital

Nurse facing disciplinary action for moving opiates out of the hospital

A view from the deck of a home in SookePoint. The property is a prize in the VGH and UBC Hospital Foundation Millionaire Lottery. Tickets are on sale now. (Contributed photo)
Millionaire Lottery home up for grabs in Sooke

Sooke prize home part of latest VGH and UBC Hospital Foundation Millionaire Lottery

FILE – B.C. Lions and Toronto Argonauts owner, Senator David Braley speaks after the CFL announced Vancouver will host the 2014 Grey Cup championship football game during a news conference in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday March 8, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
BC Lions owner David Braley dead at 79

Braley had bought the CFL team prior to 1997 season

Wind and waves were part of the reason why the Sail Canada High Performance Team selected HMCS Quadra as the winter training base for Tokyo 2021. Photo by Ken Dool
National sailing team prepares for Olympics at Vancouver Island location

HMCS Quadra is serving as the winter training base for the Canadian… Continue reading

NDP Leader John Horgan speaks with the owner of a barber shop while campaigning in Pitt Meadows, B.C., on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. Campaigning was restricted by the coronavirus pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s B.C. majority came with historically low voter turnout

Barely half of eligible voters cast ballots in snap election

Most Read