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

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. overdose deaths still rising 5 years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

Angelique Houlihan gets her COVID-19 vaccine jab last week at the community-wide clinic. (Angelique Houlihan photo)
Vaccine clinic continues this week

Plenty of booking spots available

District of Houston
Council adds flexibility to spending decisions

Singles out road works as potential beneficiary

Filling potholes in Houston
Holes filled on Highway 16

Potholes aren’t restricted to District of Houston streets. Lakes District Maintenance crews… Continue reading

In the past, the pitch-in days saw the community working together to clean-up unlike this year, when they will be encouraged to stay in their own bubbles. (Shiela Pepping photo/Houston Today)
Houston to pitch-in on Apr. 22

The Houston & District Chamber of Commerce’s 60th pitch-in day

Demonstrators at the legislature on April 14 called on the province to decriminalize drug possession and provide widespread access to regulated safe supply across B.C. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
Rally calls for decriminalization, safe supply on 5th anniversary of overdose emergency declaration

From 2016 to the end of February, 7,072 British Columbians died due to overdose

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Feb. 1, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps to 1,168 Wednesday, nearly 400 in hospital

Now 120 coronavirus patients in intensive care, six more deaths

Moss covered branches are seen in the Avatar Old Growth Forest near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, B.C. Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. blockades aimed at protecting old-growth forests reveal First Nation split

Two Pacheedaht chiefs say they’re ‘concerned about the increasing polarization over forestry activities’ in the territory

Richmond RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng said, in March, the force received a stand-out number of seven reports of incidents that appeared to have “racial undertones.” (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
‘Racially motivated’ incidents on the rise in B.C’s 4th largest city: police

Three incidents in Richmond are currently being invested as hate crimes, says RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng

Commercial trucks head south towards the Pacific Highway border crossing Wednesday (April 14, 2021). The union representing Canadian border officers wants its members to be included on the frontline priority list for the COVID-19 vaccine. (Aaron Hinks photo)
CBSA officers’ union calls for vaccine priority in B.C.

Border officers at ports including, YVR and land crossings should ‘not be left behind’

A still from the video taken of a violent arrest on May 30, 2020 in downtown Kelowna. (File)
Kelowna Mountie charged with assault for caught-on-camera violent arrest

Const. Siggy Pietrzak was filmed punching a suspected impaired driver at least 10 times during an arrest

A screenshot from a Nuu-chah-nulth healing song and performance created in collaboration between Hjalmer Wenstob and Timmy Masso. (Screenshot from YouTube)
VIDEO: Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation brothers produce COVID-19 healing song

Hjalmer Wenstob and Timmy Masso share dance and inspiration.

Most Read