Breaking down Bill 62: What you can and can't do while wearing a niqab in Quebec

The new law applies to a wide array of public institutions — from hospitals to libraries to public transit and universities. And it's all about the specifics.

Justice Ministry outlines specific instances where people receiving public services must uncover their face

Quebecer Warda Naili donned a niqab six years ago. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

You can walk into a public library, but you can't take out a book.

You can sit in a hospital waiting room, but you can't interact with staff.

You can drop off your children at public daycare, but you can't pick them up.

In an effort to quell criticism and confusion, Quebec Justice Minister Stéphanie Vallée released on Tuesday a list of highly specific examples outlining how Bill 62 — the province's new religious neutrality law — will be applied and enforced.

Vallée noted that Muslim women who wear a niqab or burka could be eligible for an exemption, in some cases, on the grounds of religious accommodation. 

Here are the government's directives on some key public services.

Public transit

An employee of a transit authority can ask a person to verify their identity by showing their face if they are attempting to board a bus or train using a photo ID ticket or discounted student or seniors OPUS card. 

However, a person using the Metro would not be asked to show their face if they are using automated services and there is no interaction with a public employee.

The law makes no reference to sanctions if someone is on a bus with a covered face, but when asked about penalties by a reporter, Vallée responded, "If you don't get on, you won't get kicked off."

Health and social services

At public health-care institutions such as hospitals or clinics, people must have their faces uncovered when dealing with a staff member and receiving a service that relates to identification or communication.

When there is no interaction with a staff member — someone sitting in the waiting room, for example — a person wouldn't have to remove their face-covering. 

The government directive says that the same rules apply to a person who is not seeking care but is accompanying another person who requires care.

"Obviously, nobody will be refused emergency treatment," she said.

Educational institutions

Students must have their faces uncovered in class, to "facilitate learning," according to the province's directives.

This applies to all levels of publicly funded education, including universities and colleges.

The rules also apply to employees of school boards and those receiving services from them.

Child care

For security reasons, the law will compel anyone picking up a child from an after-school program to show their face to an employee.

People protested Bill 62 in Montreal last week by covering their faces and waiting at bus stops along Parc Avenue. (Sudha Krishnan/CBC)


At public libraries, a person with a covered face is free to roam the stacks or read a book with their face covered.

To get a library card or communicate with staff, that person will need to have their face exposed.


For purposes of identification, communication or security, a person trying to access a court file with a clerk or being sworn in must have their face uncovered.


The Justice Ministry also provided a list of specific positions for which the person holding that office cannot have their face covered.

  • Government departments or agencies (including government corporations such as Hydro-Québec).
  • School boards, vocational colleges, university institutions (including private educational institutions receiving public grants).
  • Public institutions in the health and social services network.
  • Quebec ombudsman; municipalities, municipal housing boards.
  • Transit authorities, or any other operator of a public transit system.
  • Early childhood centres and subsidized daycares.