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The Charter of the French language and its regulations govern the consultation of English-language content.
March 1, 2010

(French only) - Avis sur les directives de la Régie de l'assurance maladie en matière d'accommodement raisonnable


The first situation raised in this opinion involved a client’s refusal to be served by a RAMQ call-centre employee from a cultural community. The Commission came to the conclusion that the concept of reasonable accommodation did not apply in this case. It was clearly a case of the client expressing prejudice on the grounds that the employee spoke with an accent and therefore probably related to the employee's ethnic or national origin. This type of request by clientele is discriminatory and undermines the dignity of RAMQ employees.

The second situation involved a client’s refusal to be served by a RAMQ receptionist wearing the hijab. The Commission came to the conclusion that there was no obligation to accommodate the client. The law as it stands does not prohibit public service personnel from wearing religious symbols. Public servants have the right to wear a hijab. The fact that a State employee wears a religious symbol does not, in itself, infringe a client’s basic freedom of conscience and religion because, in itself, the mere sight of a religious symbol does not constitute hardship.

Finally, with regard to the situation of female clients who wear the full veil (niqab or burka), and who request that their identity be checked and authenticated by a female employee, the Commission was of the opinion that the RAMQ was under no obligation to accommodate this request. According to the Commission, asking these women to uncover their face for identification purposes within a neutral administrative framework, and for a short period of time, does not infringe freedom of religion in a significant way. As such, the RAMQ has no obligation to accommodate a client’s request that authentication or the taking of a photograph be done by a female employee.