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

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

File photo
Castlegar sees spike in crime over winter

Local RCMP report increase in calls

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
36 new cases of COVID-19, one death in Interior Health

The number of active cases in the region is at 366

Kirk Duff is running for mayor in the upcoming Castlegar byelection Photo: Submitted
Third candidate enters Castlegar mayor’s race

Kirk Duff previously served 18 years as a city councillor

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
43 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

368 cases in the region remain active

The Kaslo Outdoor Recreation and Trail Society will build a trail on Mount Buchanan, seen here with society secretary Stuart Heard, with support from Columbia Basin Trust. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay trails receive Columbia Basin Trust funding

Several locations in the West Kootenay are undergoing upgrades

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)
Second death reported in Kelowna General Hospital COVID-19 outbreak

A total of seven cases have been identified at the hospital: six patients and one staff

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
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

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

Most Read