Last October, Quebec passed a controversial new law called Bill 62. This law was meant to set rules with regards to face coverings and access to public services.
Basically, it stated that people offering or receiving public services must have their faces visible. The law received a lot of attentions because it essentially banned people who wear face covering from using a city bus or metro, attending public school and even from receiving medical attention.
But in December, the law was put on hold by a Quebec Superior court who said the law could not be enforced until specific guidelines were set regarding face coverings.
And yesterday those guidelines were officially released:
1. The request must prove that the difference in treatment is impairing his or her rights.
2. The request must be serious and based on sincere belief.
3. The accommodation must be in line with the principle of equality of all people. Therefore, it must not result in the discrimination of another group.
4. The accommodation must be in line with the principle of the state's religious neutrality.
5. The accommodation is reasonable. In other words, it does not cause undue hardship on others or affect the quality of service or public health of others. This also factors in the cost of any accommodation.
6. The person making the request is co-operating in seeking a solution, including making concessions. Failure to co-operate may result in the request being denied.
That means that if you wanted to wear a face covering on the bus or metro, you would have to make a request directly to the STM. The requests would then be determined on a case-by-case basis.
These guidelines were supposed to clear things up, but somehow they seem to have made the issue even more complicated, and so far no one is saying exactly how this will affect people who wear face coverings.
All we know for sure at this point is that the law will be in effect on July 1st.