Posts Tagged Quebec

“We Don’t Care What’s On Your Head. We Care What’s In It.”

So there’s this thing in Quebec which I’m sure my Canadian readers have heard of and maybe also a few of my American readers, which involves the Quebec government devising some legislation called the Charter of Quebec Values. I have to say “charters” and “values” are nice happy positive words, and Quebec is filled with deliciously cheesy poutine, hockey, maple syrup, and those devilishly sexy Québécois men, so what’s there not to like (except for les Habs, boo, hiss!)?

The thing is, this Charter of Quebec Values wants to ban wearing obvious religious symbols for all public employees, including nurses and other health care professionals. This, I have to say, has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO with some nice Ladies of Muslim persuasion cheekily wearing hijab in broad daylight in Montreal and everything.

From the Government of Quebec website. Top: acceptable. Bottom: Va te faire foutre (You can Google Translate that too.)

(Just so you know, American readers, I must also officially tell you is NOT racist, and the fact the proposed legislation targets Quebecers with brown skin is merely, um, an unfortunate coincidence.  We say this because the Quebec government is acting from the purest, noblest of intentions. This is a Fact, because the Quebec government has told us so. (You can Google translate it or something.) It is well-known that the separatist, ruling Parti Québécois has long been offended by clerical collars, Jewish kippahs, wimples and garish Roman Catholic crucifixes. This is also a Fact, which you can also Google.)

The proposed charter will affect health care professionals, including nurses. My question, then, does the wearing of religious symbols or associated clothing have any place in the provision of health care? Should nurses don hijab on the hjob?

Before you run off to start raving, maybe you should consider a few things. First, banning headscarves (or whatever) has a distinct element of authoritarian nastiness about it. Should the nursing profession be that coercive? There’s probably no getting around the fact that if the legislation is passed, it will be nurses enforcing the ban against other nurses.*  (The irony of having the Quebec government telling Muslim women how to dress, partly, it is argued, to ensure gender equality, is beyond these guys.)

Another thing: nurses have a long history of wearing weird things on their heads. It’s safe to say that if you look over the course of the history of nursing, no crazy headgear has been the exception, not the rule.

Like this:

Or this:

Or this:

Which reminds me: some of you might say, oh it completely different! it’s a religious thing! Muslims shouldn’t be pushing their faith in our faces!

Well, there’s this:

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And this:

But not this? (Love this ad, by the way. It was created in response to the proposed Quebec law..)

We’re always looking for the highest calibre health professionals to come join our team. This is our newest recruitment ad that will be running in Montreal.  So for anyone looking to work in a leading hospital focused on safety and quality, check us out.

So if you’re offended by women in hijab but not by Catholic nursing sisters, what’s the difference? Do you really believe the hijab (or any other piece of religious accoutrement) sucks out the nursing from the nurse?

So dear readers, hijab for nurses and other health care professionals, yes or no?

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*The Quebec nurses union, FIQ, has courageously taken the position of taking no position at all. In other words, the union won’t defend members running afoul of this law. I’m pro-union, but holy Sam Gompers, sometimes their leadership are dumb as stumps.

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On the Suckiness of Health Care Reporting

Woke up this morning and saw this in my newsreader, the story of an elderly woman dying in a Quebec emergency department after (allegedly) waiting six hours to see a physician:

Last Tuesday, Therese de Repentigny’s daughter took her to the hospital after she began complaining of pain. De Repentigny, 78, was seen by a triage nurse and then told to wait.

De Repentigny’s daughter, Fernande Blais, says her mother got up from her hospital stretcher several times, asking to see a doctor. However, she was repeatedly told she would have to wait.

“No one came. The entire night was spent that way,” Blais told CTV Montreal.

Shortly before midnight, de Repentigny was scheduled for blood work and an ultrasound, but first she wanted to use the bathroom.

When she got up she grabbed the wall, telling her daughter she wasn’t feeling well before collapsing to the floor. Blais called for help, and eventually had to leave her mother’s side to find a doctor.

You get the impression from the story that this unfortunate woman was essentially left to rot by uncaring staff.* This may or may not be true: the hospital claims de Repentigny was actively receiving care.  In fact, we are confounded in making sense of this story, by the lack of information. We don’t know the details of her presenting complaint, whether her vital signs were stable when she arrived, what nursing and medical care she received, and so on. We don’t know if her syncope in the toilet was related to her initial complaint, or if she went into cardiac arrest for reasons completely unrelated to her visit: this happens more often than the public might suppose.

There are reasons for this paucity of information. Reporters don’t have the knowledge — or dare I say it, the interest or time — to pick out the nuances in a case like this, and there are more than a few. It’s a quick win for them to link this incident with the case of Brian Sinclair, though the circumstances between the two appear to be much different. Hospitals cannot give out confidential information about patients, and in essence, the only account we have is from family members distraught by a grievous loss.

The point is, like most health care horror stories in the media, we aren’t given enough information to make any definitive conclusions at all and yet we are left at the end of the story with larger cultural memes validated. Our expectations are confirmed. We all know the story of The Nasty Nurse and the particularly Canadian motif of Our Failing Health Care System, don’t we?

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*On the other hand, Jesus wept, if the incident recounted at the end of CTV’s story is true.

[UPDATE: inserted links I inexplicably forgot to put in.]

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Pooped

No Health Care for You --- and No, We're Not Bigoted Creeps Either

Was going to write about the niqab and the new Quebec law denying government services to anyone wearing it, which presumably includes health care (basic human rights anyone?) but I’m too tired to write much of anything today today. I’m coming off three night shifts — which don’t usually wipe me, but having The Ankle (which feels like someone’s been beating it with a bat this afternoon) is a real drag.

So I’m going to take some drugs, put up the leg, and watch television till my brain turns to zombie goo.

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