A Jewish hospital in Montreal has leveled a new accusation against a proposed law that seeks to ban religion from the public sector: that it would prevent the hospital from serving kosher food to its observant patients.
Jewish General Hospital has publicly opposed the bill, known as Bill 60, for months; but the kosher food objection came in a new brief unveiled last week.
JGH operates an in-house kosher kitchen, and fears it would have to close under the guidelines of the bill. It is unclear how JGH came to this interpretation of the bill. According to the Montreal Gazette, a spokesperson for the hospital said “the obligation to remain neutral in religious matters and to reflect the secular nature of the state might impinge on the practice of serving kosher food.”
According to its website, JGH was founded in 1933, in part to combat anti-Semitism in healthcare in Montreal, and to provide opportunities for Jewish doctors. Although its culture reflects Judaism, the hospital is “non-sectarian,” and is part of Montreal’s public hospital system.
Late last year, JGH announced it would defy the bill’s ban on “conspicuous” and “overt” religious symbols on public sector employees and civil servants. Many have interpreted this to mean head coverings, including kippot.
The bill is being pushed by the nationalist governing Parti Quebecois.