An Ontario hospital is using Quebec’s controversial Values Charter to do a little recruiting. Lakeridge Health in Oshawa is running ads featuring a nurse in a hijab, with the caption that “we don’t care what’s on your head; we care what’s in it.”
Lakeridge Health is a small medical hospital that few people outside the Oshawa area have ever heard of until the ad. It's running in a McGill University newspaper and put Lakeridge Health front and center in the news, which, as it turns out, was part of the hospital's ploy.
"Part of this is to create intrigue,” says Kevin Empey, CEO of Lakeridge Health, “What is Lakeridge Health. We need to promote that we're really big, with 4 hospitals and that Durham is a great place to live.”
But the ad has struck a nerve , playing on the controversy created by Quebec's Values Charter that would ban religious symbols for public workers.
“Moi, je suis contre,” says Mylène Page, outside the Hull Pavilion of the Outaouais Hospital. Many visitors to the hospital had strong opinions on the new law, and what it might mean for their health care system.
Pagé, a resident of Gatineau says in French that “maybe certain religious people will leave the hospital but Catholics will probably just take off their little medals or crosses and still remain Catholic in their homes.”
"I would imagine if they feel the same way we feel,” says Karen May-Boucher, “I imagine they would leave. What would be the incentive to stay? You're being treated like second class citizens so why would you stay?”
Gatineau hospitals have had a hard time in the past attracting and keeping doctors and nurses, especially with Ottawa just across the river. There's a concern the Values Charter could impact that even more.
"It could happen for sure,” says Richard Pelletier, a resident of Gatineau. He says he doesn’t like the charter at all.
Even Calgary's mayor is wading into this, offering religious minorities an opportunity to settle in his city.
"If you're uncomfortable living in a society that says people wearing hijabs and turbans should be excluded from jobs,” says Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, “come here (to Calgary). We're happy to have you.”