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

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

Vaccinations are set to resume in the small community of Tatchet, according to Lake Babine Nation’s Deputy Chief. (Black Press Media file photo)
Lake Babine Nation vaccine rollout resumes after a short pause

A COVID positive test within the care team had put the vaccinations on hold

Cheslatta Chief Corrina Leween received one of the COVID-19 vaccines on the Southside, on Wednesday, Jan. 13. (Submitted/Lakes District News)
COVID-19 vaccination begins in Burns Lake

Senior population, health care workers and First Nations among the first to get the vaccine

Sasquatch sighting. (Omineca Ski Club photo/Lakes District News)
Sasquatch on the loose at Omineca Ski Club

Head out to the trails to see if you can spot it; a tongue-in-cheek response from the club President

Two books in particular became quite popular at the start of the pandemic — Soap and Water Common Sense, The definitive guide to viruses’ bacteria, parasites, and disease and The Great Influenza, The story of the deadliest pandemic in history. (Priyanka Ketkar photo/Lakes District News)
Burns Lake Public Library lent 20,916 books in 2020

Gained 67 new patrons throughout the year

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

A female prisoner sent Langford police officers a thank-you card after she spent days in their custody. (Twitter/West Shore RCMP)
Woman gives Victoria-area jail 4.5-star review in handwritten card to police after arrest

‘We don’t often get thank you cards from people who stay with us, but this was sure nice to see’: RCMP

An elk got his antlers caught up in a zip line in Youbou over the weekend. (Conservation Officer Service Photo)
Elk rescued from zip line in Youbou on Vancouver Island

Officials urge people to manage items on their property that can hurt animals

A Trail man has a lucky tin for a keepsake after it saved him from a stabbing last week. File photo
Small tin in Kootenay man’s jacket pocket saved him from stabbing: RCMP

The man was uninjured thanks to a tin in his jacket

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Frustrated family denied access to B.C. Indigenous woman’s police shooting report

Independent investigation into B.C. woman’s fatal shooting in New Brunswick filed to Crown

Delta Police Constable Jason Martens and Dezi, a nine-year-old German Shepherd that recently retired after 10 years with Delta Police. (Photo submitted)
Dezi, a Delta police dog, retires on a high note after decade of service

Nine-year-old German Shepherd now fights over toys instead of chasing down bad guys

Nurses collect samples from a patient in a COVID suspect room in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
5 British Columbians under 20 years old battled COVID-19 in ICU in recent weeks

Overall hospitalizations have fallen but young people battling the virus in hospital has increased

Canada released proposed regulations Jan. 2 for the fisheries minister to maintain Canada’s major fish stocks at sustainable levels and recover those at risk. (File photo)
New laws would cement DFO accountability to depleted fish stocks

Three B.C. salmon stocks first in line for priority attention under proposed regulations

Trees destroyed a Shoreacres home during a wind storm Jan. 13, 2021. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay woman flees just before tree crushes house

Pamala DeRosa is thankful to be alive

Most Read