The RCMP logo is seen outside Royal Canadian Mounted Police “E” Division Headquarters, in Surrey, B.C., on Friday April 13, 2018. The RCMP has eased restrictions that sidelined bearded officers, including some Sikh and Muslim members, from front-line policing during the COVID-19 pandemic.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

RCMP eases mask policy for bearded members, allows return to front line in some cases

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair stressed the need to accommodate members

The RCMP has eased restrictions that sidelined bearded officers, including some Sikh and Muslim members, from front-line policing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Difficulties with properly fitting a mask over religiously mandated facial hair meant some Mounties have been assigned to desk duty in recent months.

That prompted the World Sikh Organization of Canada to press the government to come up with a solution.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Public Safety Minister Bill Blair also stressed the need to accommodate members.

The RCMP says affected members across the country may return to operational duties, with a mask, under certain circumstances.

Bearded members will be sent out to calls only if the risk of exposure is low or multiple responding officers will be present.

The RCMP says at no time will officers or the public be placed at undue risk.

In addition, the return to operational duties will always rest with the affected members, said a statement Thursday from Gail Johnson, the RCMP’s chief human resources officer.

“Should they prefer to be assigned to other policing duties as a safety precaution, we will continue to make that accommodation,” she said.

“Each case will be assessed on an individual basis and in cases where we find accommodations were not appropriate, we will address them through internal processes.”

While certain risks are being reduced, all risk cannot be completely eliminated, Johnson said. “This is the nature of police work.”

The national police force will continue to work on finding longer-term solutions that fully accommodate all bearded members, the statement added.

“We are committed to resolving this issue as quickly as possible in order to help us further advance the important work that is ongoing in the RCMP to enhance diversity, equity, accountability and trust.”

Earlier this week, the RCMP said it was in a unique position compared to other police services because it is subject to the Canada Labour Code and Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations when it comes to personal protective equipment, known as PPE.

“Unfortunately, there is presently no evidence of a safe and proven alternative to the currently approved PPE that meets the unique, uncontrolled setting in which our front-line members operate and that adheres to occupational health and safety regulations,” the RCMP said.

The World Sikh Organization of Canada said at the time that if the problem was indeed regulatory, the government should step in and solve the issue, particularly given that the organization first raised the issue in early June.

Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusRCMP

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Thaddeus Lenover kisses his mushroom picking partner Teagan Evans on the cheek after a rainy day out in the woods harvesting wild mushrooms. (Nora O'Malley photo)
Mushroom pickers say it’s less busy this year

Mushroom picking partners Thaddeus Lenover and Teagan Evans spent the better part… Continue reading

Surfrider Pacific Rim’s Michelle Hall and Lilly Woodbury raise their marine debris buckets to eliminating single-use plastics and creating a thriving Canadian circular economy. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Canada’s plastic advancement is viewed a win for the West Coast

“This is a victory for the ongoing history of environmental activism on the West Coast.”

Advance polling begins on Oct. 15, 2020, across B.C. in the 2020 snap election. (Black Press files)
B.C. VOTES 2020: Advance voting in Tofino begins today, Ucluelet’s advance polls open Sunday

Advance voting runs from Oct. 15 to Oct. 21 in B.C.’s election

The Ucluelet Brewing Company reopened with new COVID-19 measures in place. (Westerly file photo)
Ucluelet Brewing Company cheers award winning ambience

Brewery wins Vancouver Island Real Estate Board’s Award of Excellence in the hospitality category.

With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Green leader Sonia Furstenau promises to convert BC Ferries back into Crown corporation

Promise comes Monday afternoon with five days left in campaign

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

(File photo)
RCMP: Two men face charges in reported Parksville fatal hit-and-run

Investigation into man’s death began in August of 2019

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

A B.C. man decided to create a website to help people find family doctors accepting patients. Because Victoria is considered high-demand, clinic openings can’t be posted publicly. (Unsplash)
Vancouver Island man starts website that connects B.C. residents with doctors

Nanaimo man started project to help people find family physicians accepting patients

Most Read