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A Quebec school board says it refused to hire two teachers who wear religious symbols because they would not comply with the province's new secularism law. Coalition Avenir Quebec MNA Simon Jolin-Barrette responds to reporters questions on the government transition, on October 9, 2018 at the legislature in Quebec City.

Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press

A Quebec school board says it refused to hire two teachers who wear religious symbols because they would not comply with the province’s new secularism law.

The Commission scolaire de la Pointe-de-l’Ile said the two candidates indicated they would not remove their religious symbols on the job as the legislation requires.

Bill 21 prohibits some public sector workers, including teachers and police officers, from wearing religious symbols such as hijabs, turbans, and kippas at work.

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School boards across the province are complying, even as they grapple with a labour shortage that has left some children beginning the school year without a permanent teacher.

The board’s position was welcomed by Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette, who is also the minister responsible for state secularism.

He told Radio-Canada the new law is very clear and it’s up to employers to apply it to all those hired since the bill was tabled in March.

“It’s part of the work contract,” he told Radio-Canada. “The person finds themselves in a situation where they can’t be hired if they don’t accept the obligations attached to the work contract, namely not to wear religious symbols.”

Several other school boards have said it’s too early to know what effect the law will have on their schools.

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