Education ministry admits to surveying schools on religious symbols

Quebec's education department is admitting it began surveying schools months ago about how many employees wear religious symbols on the job.

The Canadian Press obtained a copy of a survey sent to schools across the province asking principals to count the number of teachers and other personnel who wear visible religious symbols.

Last week, the Coalition Avenir Quebec government was accused of religious profiling after education ministry officials called school boards asking if they kept records of how many board employees wear religious symbols.

The government has promised legislation to prohibit public servants in positions of authority — including teachers — from wearing such symbols as the hijab, kippa or turban at work.

Education Minister Jean-Francois Roberge said today he was unfairly criticized because the same questions had been asked in a survey that was conceived last June, when the Liberals were in office.

He says the survey was sent out in November, after his government took office, but he was unaware of it.

The Canadian Press approached Roberge's office, the Education Department and the office of Premier François Legault for comment on the survey today, but received no response. Hours later, Roberge held a press conference giving details about the survey and denouncing the criticism he faced last week.