62% in Quebec oppose firing public servants for wearing religious symbols

Montreal protest against PQ charter
Demonstration against the ‘Charter of Values’ in Montreal last month

A majority of Quebecers – 62 per cent – oppose firing public servants who insist on wearing religious symbols at work, according to a poll conducted for CTV News.

The Parti Quebecois’ proposed Charter of Quebec Values would ban public employees from wearing prominent religious symbols, such as headscarves and turbans, in the workplace – although it has not said what the consequences of defying the charter would be.

The Ipsos Reid poll found that 38 per cent of Quebecers agreed with, and 62 per cent disagreed, with the statement: “Public servants like teachers, health care workers and others should be fired from their jobs if they insist on wearing religious symbols and clothing at work.”

Across Canada, 72 per cent opposed the statement, while 28 per cent agreed.

The poll found that support for firing public sector employees who insisted on wearing religious symbols was strongest in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, with 28 per cent agreement, followed by Ontario at 27 per cent, B.C. at 22 per cent and Atlantic Canada with 16 per cent agreement.

Interestingly, the poll revealed that foreign-born Canadians are more likely to support the position, with 35 per cent agreement, than individuals born in Canada, with 28 per cent agreement.

Other findings:

  • Women (78 per cent) are more likely than men (65 per cent) to disagree with the idea of firing public servants for insisting on wearing religious symbols or clothing at work.
  • Middle-aged Canadians (32 per cent, ages 35-54) are most in agreement with the position, ahead of seniors (30 per cent, ages 55+) and younger Canadians (22 per cent, ages 18-34).

The Ipsos Reid/CTV News poll surveyed 1,305 Canadians online between Sept. 18 and 20. The poll is accurate to within +/-3.5 percentage points.

CTV News, 1 October 2013

This just underlines the importance of the questions that are asked in opinion polls. Some previous polls have shown large majorities in Quebec in support of the “Charter of Values”. However, when the actual consequences of that charter are spelled out – namely, that state employees would lose their jobs if they failed to comply with it (for how else could a ban on religious symbols be imposed?) – then that majority support evaporates.