WATCH: Quebec releases guidelines for religious accommodations in public institutions

Religious accommodation has been a major talking point for politicians in Quebec, with no one being able to agree on any one answer. 

Keeping with that theme Justice Minister Stephanie Valle released guidelines for public institutions dealing with such requests and it's not a one size fits all approach.

Vallee said each request is unique so it would be too difficult to put one specific framework in place. Instead each request will be examined within its own context.

“Depending on the situation, the accommodation could be different. In some case an accommodation that calls for an accommodation of a uniform could be granted if the parties agree that for security reasons there should be an adaptation of the uniform as we’ve seen elsewhere in Canada,” she said.

However the conditions for each request to be granted will be consistent.

Among them:

  • the application must be based on the belief in the necessity to conform to a specific faith
  • the request must respect the right to equality between men and women
  • there must be no discrimination on the grounds of race, sex, gender identity or expression
  • the state must remain neutral
  • the request cannot impede on the rights of others or put others in danger

“It’s going to help a lot of people respond to requests because right now there is absolutely nothing,” said Vallee.

The Justice Minister said workers on the ground worried about being the one responsible for making the final decision have nothing to fear.

“We don’t want to put the burden on bus drivers. They are not the ones that should be doing the arbitration. Once the request is presented and granted, then the group – in this case the STM – will determine how the person will be able to access the services,” she said.

Not everyone was impressed with the announcement.

Shaheen Ashraf of the Canadian Council for Muslim Women told CTV Montreal the guidelines are mindboggling.

“It took how many hours and how many people to come to this decision? I have no idea. Why? We're Canadian. We’re Quebecers,” she said.

The government's opposition was just as critical.

“It’s always case by case. It’s that thinking of doing things case by case, judging things case by case, that gives the responsibility to the people to the employees. That's the problem,” said PQ MNA Agnes Maltais.

"Stephanie Vallee is opening the door to a religious accommodation for the niqab and the burqa if the (person's) faith is ‘legitimate’ and she is making Bill 62 more confusing. It was a mess and now it's a shambles" the CAQ said in a statement.