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Jewish hospital says Quebec values charter would end kosher food service

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TORONTO (JTA) — Montreal’s Jewish General Hospital warned that complying with Quebec’s so-called Charter of Values means it will be forbidden from serving kosher food.

In a 37-page brief presented at public hearings into the controversial legislation, which includes a ban on the wearing of religious headgear by public-sector employees, the hospital said it would be prohibited from serving kosher food to a “significant number of observant Jewish patients,” the Montreal Gazette reported.

The hospital announced several months ago that it would defy the charter, known as Bill 60, if passed in its current form.

The brief outlines new arguments against the bill, including concerns that it would infringe on religious dietary requirements and lead to a deterioration in labor relations, according to the Gazette.

“Since the bill contradicts the JGH’s own values, the hospital could not in good conscience implement a policy to bring its mission and characteristics in line with the requirements of the proposed legislation,”  the executive summary of the brief said.

“Nor would the JGH take advantage of any article (in Bill 60) that would exempt the hospital from applying the bill’s provisions in the short term or indefinitely. Rather, the JGH, in partnership with other like-minded institutions, would launch a legal challenge against implementing the bill.”

Although Bill 60 does allude to “dietary matters” stemming from a “religious precept” in public day care centers, it does not specifically discuss religious dietary accommodations in the health-care sector.

Nonetheless, the hospital said Bill 60 would “eliminate [the] much-needed and time-honored” kosher kitchen.

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