July 06, 2019

OneVoice Canada strongly opposes Bill 21 and stands in solidarity with all the international students belonging to religious minorities in Quebec

“The state is forcing people like myself to take off my turban. I can’t do it,” aid Amrit Kaur, a recent education graduate. – Jonathan Montpetit, CBC

OneVoice Canada strongly opposes the passing of Bill 21 and stands in solidarity with all the international students in Quebec who recognize themselves as religious minorities such as Sikhs, Muslims and Jews. Bill 21 not only restricts the wearing of ‘religious symbols’ by public servants in positions of authority such as police officers, judges, prosecutors, school teachers and provincial government but also has a trickle down negative affect in other non-public sector jobs. This bill will negatively impact international students belonging to religious minorities by impeding their career options upon graduation even though they are paying 3 to 4 times more than domestic students. 

International students not only contribute to building the rich cultural diversity of Canada but are also a key economic drive throughout the country and especially in Quebec. Quebec is the host province of the 3rd largest population of international students in Canada after Ontario and British Columbia. As per Statistics Canada, there are currently 55,369 international students in Quebec contributing $1.5bn of annual spend in the province itself contributing to creation of 19,704 jobs while drawing a labor income of $797.9mn and in-directly contributing to annual provincial & federal taxes.

The fact that the Quebec Govt. is having to leverage the notwithstanding clause is a clear indication that they are aware that this Bill offends freedom of religion and conscience enshrined under Sec 2(a) of the Canadian Charter of Rights & Freedoms. The bill goes against our human rights and what Canada stands for. We are in complete agreement with our sister organization WSO’s opposition to these new discriminatory policies and would extend our support in any way in their fight against Bill 21 which hinges on people’s basic human rights.