Hospitals and health-care institutions across Quebec are asking for a permanent exemption from the Parti Québécois's proposed ban on workers wearing religious symbols.

The Quebec Association of Health and Social Service Institutions said it's worried the province will lose staff if the ban becomes law.

"Many managers in the institutions have some fears that we might lose some people because they will prefer to go somewhere else," said Denis Perras, spokesman for association, at a press conference in Montreal today. 

Perras said the province already has difficultly recruiting and retaining qualified health care workers and that a ban could only make it worse.

No religious symbol problems reported 

The association said it surveyed its members across the province, asking if they had ever had a problem with a staff member wearing a religious symbol.

"There is no problem, absolutely no problem in all the institutions," said Perras.

None of the institutions surveyed reported having an issue with staff wearing religious symbols, Perras said, and they want an exemption from any kind of ban.

Perras said the association is not against some rules governing religious accommodation, but that the ban on religious symbols is "solving a problem that doesn't exist."