The federation of Quebec nurses’ unions (FIQ) says it will support the province’s proposed secular charter, if it's passed.

The federation, made up of 60 unions representing nurses and other health-care professionals, based its support on the results of a telephone survey it conducted with its members.

'A very high majority is supporting the charter,'- Michèle Boisclair, FIQ Vice-President

“Our responsibility was to see what they were thinking about it, and you see the result today that a very high majority is supporting the charter,” said Michèle Boisclair, vice-president at the FIQ.

Results of FIQ member survey:

  • 60 per cent support the secular charter.
  • 97 per cent support the principle of equality between men and women.
  • 74 per cent support neutrality of the state. 
  • 61 per cent support a ban on the wearing of religious symbols for all employees who work in the public sector. 

The Parti Québécois government's controversial Bill 60 would see health care professionals banned from wearing overt religious symbols, such as the Muslim hijab, Sikh turban and Jewish kippa.

The federation said the measures in the charter would reaffirm the neutrality of the state and equality between men and women.

Survey results disappointing for some

Some hospital workers say they are surprised — and disappointed — by the survey results.

“It's a bit disappointing because that's not what I hear in my work environment. People are more supportive and against the charter,” said Joumana Fawaz, a nurse who wears a hijab on the job.

Fawaz is a manager and therefore not a member of the nurses’ federation.

The federation said it will stand by any employee who insists on wearing religious symbols to work, and union officials urged the province to tread cautiously if the bill is passed.

“Please, treat that very carefully. Be very careful about these people to how they will go on their job without losing it,” said Boisclair, adding that she doesn't think nurses will leave Quebec if the provincial government imposes a ban on overt religious symbols in the workplace.

"What we expect is that it won't happen...We don't have any [indication] it will be like that," she said.

The nurses’ federation plans to present its position at parliamentary hearings on Bill 60 next month.