Hey there, time traveller! This article was published 12/9/2013 (1468 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
TORONTO — Paging Quebec's doctors and nurses: If you're worried about the proposed restrictions on religious clothing in your home province, an Ontario hospital group is looking to hire.
Lakeridge Health, which runs four hospitals east of Toronto, is turning the controversy over Quebec's "values charter" into a recruiting drive for health-care professionals.
It released a cheeky ad Thursday on social media, asking Quebec doctors and nurses to consider a move to Ontario.
It depicts a woman wearing a hijab and a stethoscope, with the slogan, "We don't care what's on your head. We care what's in it."
The ad is slated to appear Monday in the McGill University student newspaper in Montreal, but it's already attracted plenty of attention.
The proposed Quebec legislation would prohibit hospital workers and other public-sector employees from wearing religious clothing such as hijabs, kippas and turbans in the workplace.
Though polls indicate most respondents in Quebec support the legislation, it's sparked a contentious debate elsewhere in Canada.
The recruiting drive isn't about picking a fight with Quebec, said Lakeridge president and CEO Kevin Empey.
"This isn't to send a salvo at Quebec, this is because we have to recruit people," Empey said.
Lakeridge, which operates in one of Ontario's fastest-growing regions, is looking to fill about 230 jobs, he said. Although it's been hiring 20 to 60 people a month for more than a year, Lakeridge has to look outside Ontario for new graduates and experienced professionals.
Putting out the usual ad wouldn't have sparked much interest, as Lakeridge doesn't have the same kind of name recognition as other hospitals, such as Toronto's Sick Kids, he said.
"How do you get someone intrigued enough to actually go to our website and look us up?" Empey said. "So if we're going to go farther afield, we have to do something that finds a way to get your attention."
Hospital officials debated the ad for more than a week, concerned it would backfire in Montreal, he said. But so far, the response has been "amazing."
"Even as it went out, we were going, 'OK, are we going to get crucified or are we going to get some people interested?'" he said. "I've had direct emails from Calgary to Ottawa that have emailed me directly."
Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews called the ad "provocative," but said it reflects Ontario as a place that celebrates diversity.
"What Lakeridge said in that ad speaks for all of us," she said. "Whatever clothing... we're cool with that here in Ontario, and I think it's our strength."
Salam Elmenyawi, president of the Muslim Council of Montreal, is urging cultural communities to stay calm in the face of the proposed legislation and not rush for the border.
"I thank all the people across Canada who are reaching out and opening doors," he said Thursday. "But I tell my fellow Quebecers, men and women of religious minorities, to please don't panic," he said at a news conference in Montreal.
"Stay; this is our country, this is our home. We will work together to improve the situation and make sure whatever laws and rules will not be exclusive."
But Elmenyawi admitted he is worried about victimization and people losing their jobs. A multicultural protest is planned for Saturday in Montreal.
— The Canadian Press
Bloc Québécois caucus turfs charter of values opponent
OTTAWA -- The Bloc Québécois expelled one of its five caucus members Thursday after she ripped into Quebec's proposed charter of values and said it would hurt the sovereigntist cause.
The decision to kick out Maria Mourani came a day after she warned the charter would "create systemic discrimination... especially against women" and that it was a "very bad move for Quebec independence."
She said the independence movement has spent years courting minority groups and that the Parti Québécois government's proposal risks undoing all that work.
Mourani, 44, born in Ivory Coast and of Lebanese origin, was also one of several sovereigntists to sign a declaration that said the charter would "stigmatize and exclude certain communities and especially some women."
Commenting on his decision to expel her, Bloc leader Daniel Paille said her comments in no way reflect the party's position on the charter.
"The charter of Quebec values... is actually a necessary and fundamental step for the Quebec nation," Paille said in a statement.
Mourani is scheduled to hold a news conference at her Montreal office this morning.