Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

The Liberal government said Thursday it has raised concerns with the RCMP about the national force declining to accommodate bearded Sikh officers during the pandemic, but the force said it is subject to a health and safety regulation for respirator fittings that “specifically requires a clean shave.”

The World Sikh Organization (WSO), which seeks to promote and protect the interests of Canadian Sikhs, said Sikh officers have been removed from front-line policing duties and given desk roles for nearly six months because the RCMP says its personal protective equipment or PPE does not seal with facial hair.

“The RCMP are the only police force in Canada that refuse to accommodate bearded Sikh officers,” said WSO president Tejinder Singh Sidhu.

Story continues below advertisement

There has been no attempt to accommodate Sikh officers with alternative PPE that would work with their facial hair, the organization added.

The concerns were raised as the RCMP and police forces across Canada face increased calls to confront systemic racism, including after a number of police shootings.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said the reports from the WSO are a concern and it is essential the RCMP provide necessary PPE “in a timely manner” to Sikh officers. “We have raised this matter with the RCMP, and expect that this be rectified as quickly as possible,” said press secretary Mary-Liz Power.

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

In a statement late Thursday, the RCMP told The Globe and Mail it regrets that members with accommodations for medical or religious reasons have been affected by the need to wear PPE in response to COVID-19.

“We have heard the concerns of our members regarding the lack of safe facial PPE for members with beards,” the force said. “As a direct result of these concerns, we have assessed a number of possible alternative PPE options that would not require a clean-shaven face.”

It said the RCMP is in a unique position compared with other police forces and the military given it is the only organization subject to the Canada Labour Code and Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations.

Story continues below advertisement

“Under the current legislation, the RCMP does not have the authority to allow members to be fit-tested with beards or to select PPE that is not approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health,” it said.

“Specifically, the Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations require that we follow the Canadian Standards Association Group standard for respirator fit-testing, which specifically requires a clean shave.”

The RCMP said they are concerned that some members are unable to serve in front-line policing and pledged to continue to explore options. “In cases where we find accommodations were not appropriate, we will address them through internal processes,” it said.

Alberta Conservative Tim Uppal, who was a cabinet minister in Stephen Harper’s government, told The Globe on Thursday that now, more than ever, the RCMP should not be excluding anyone based on their religion or their race.

“There are other police forces who do not have this issue, have not sidelined their members,” he said.

The WSO said Thursday it previously wrote to Mr. Blair and the RCMP commissioner in early June requesting they intervene to resolve the situation.

Story continues below advertisement

It also said it had written to Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand and Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains requesting their help to resolve the situation but that it did not receive a response.

Mr. Blair should answer why calls for action from the community were ignored when they were raised, Mr. Uppal said, adding the Liberals talk a great deal about systemic racism.

“When it comes to action, we see now again that there actually ignoring calls for action,” he said. “That’s disappointing to see. Frankly I am not surprised either.”

In the Speech from the Throne on Wednesday, the Liberal government promised changes to address systemic racism, including a pledge to reform the RCMP and to modernize training for police and law enforcement.

The government also said it would address training for police and law enforcement including around the use of force.

Know what is happening in the halls of power with the day’s top political headlines and commentary as selected by Globe editors (subscribers only). Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies