'Ridiculous': Poilievre, Sikh activist group slam Toronto over mask mandate for security guards

The World Sikh Organization (WSO) is also demanding that the city change its rule, which they call "discriminatory."

Roberto Wakerell-Cruz Montreal QC

The City of Toronto is coming under fire from politicians and religious rights organizations after deciding that nearly 100 Sikhs could not do their jobs due to their beards.

According to the city, facial hair may reduce the effectiveness of N95 masks, which are required to be worn on the job for the likes of GardaWorld, ASP, and Star World security, all of which are contracted by Toronto.

Conservative leadership frontrunner Pierre Poilievre commented on the matter, calling the city's rules "ridiculous."

"Having a beard doesn't prevent someone from safely doing a job as [a] security guard," he tweeted on Monday.

"Anyone who lost their job, including Sikh security guards, should be reinstated [and] compensated for lost pay. Gatekeepers who made this dumb decision should be held accountable," he said.

The World Sikh Organization (WSO) is also demanding that the city change its rule, which they call "discriminatory."

In one case, as reported on by CBC, a security guard applied for a religious accommodation when he was told about the requirement last month. He was told that he would be relegated to a lower position that comes with a lower salary, putting him in the position of getting fired, shaving his beard, or finding a different job.

The city has said in an email that it is aware of the WSO's complaint and is reviewing the situation.

"The City is in the process of reviewing the matter and making inquiries with the contractors," the statement to CBC said.

The situation rings similarly to a case that arose with Sikh motorcyclists, who were for a time unable to legally ride without a helmet due to their turbans.

The Doug Ford Conservative government decided that it would provide the community with an exception to the helmet rule, saying that the government "believes that individuals have personal accountability and responsibility with respect to their own well-being."

Ontario, Alberta, BC, and Manitoba all have exceptions in place for Sikh motorcyclists.


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