Montreal: Jewish Hospital fined $10,000

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montreal jewish hosp.jpgThe Human Rights Commission of the province of Quebec has ordered the Jewish General Hospital of Montreal to pay $10,000 dollars in damages to an ambulance technician who brought in non-kosher food into the kosher cafeteria of the hospital and was told to leave the premises, after refusing to stop eating.

(The Jewish General Hospital is one of only two hospitals in North America that are completely kosher; the other being Maimonides in Boro Park, Brooklyn.)

The Commission wrote in its decision that the hospital did not fulfill its obligation of reasonable accommodation and that the hospital’s actions infringed on the plaintiff’s freedom of religion not to be coerced to eat kosher food.

It should be pointed out that the hospital has a non-kosher eating section. The plaintiff claims he was never informed of it, whereas the hospital says that he was.   The Jewish General is a public institution supported by public funds, and therefore there is a huge tumult going on over this issue. The hospital is now considering appealing the decision.

(Article by YW Montreal reporter)


31 COMMENTS

  1. This is very scary. This could be the start of the downfall of kosher eating as we know it. It appears to me to be an act of outright Anti-Semitism. Rachmona Liztlan!

  2. In Paterson, NJ the Barnett Hospital was a Kosher Hospital and it was in tyhe by-laws that it was to remain Kosher – I am not sure if it is still kosher. If it is that would make 3 in North America

  3. It definitly IS outright antisemitsim! I mean why would anybody bring their OWN food into a restaraunt? Its not allowed under any circumstances. Being familiar with Canada, the Province of Quebec(not the citizens) are normally very tolerant of our religion. Upon the request of the community, the authorities agreed to have ONLY male officers dealing with frum men when they commit an offence. Why would they agree to implement a suit like this under the circumstances? weird.

  4. The story is two years old (although the decision is recent).

    The issue here is to what extent publicly-funded institutions can implement policies that favour certain religious observances or discriminate on religious grounds. In this instance, the Quebec Human Rights Commission found that the driver’s right to freedom of religion was infringed upon.

    If you think of the hospital as a public space (which it essentially is, given its funding), the decision makes sense. Analogies are never perfect, but imagine if only Treif or Halal was allowed to be eaten in a hospital, or embassy, or DMV office. In public spaces, people can eat what they want — that’s what the Commission held.

    To say that this could be “the downfall of Kosher eating as we know it” is unwarranted and melodramatic.

  5. PEOPLE!!!! yes anti-semitisim is rampant in the world but everything need not be blamed on it.What we have here is a worker bringing his own sandwich into a hospital cafeteria….If a school janitor brings a pork sandwich into a yeshiva is that anti-semitism? Perhaps thoughtless but hardly anti-semetic ….lets not be completely naive and/or take advantage of the termonology “anti-semetisim”…

  6. Charedim….
    ‘IN public spaces…..’
    what do you mean? this was the KOSHER cafeteria. ITS NOT public space…
    and IF already , why didnt he co operate and leave to go into the Non Kosher SECTION?

  7. NAMELESS:

    1) You are misrepresenting the police issue. What you are referring to was actually a non-binding suggestion made in an internal Montreal police magazine — that female officers let male officers handle interaction with Orthodox men. The authorities did not “agree” on anything, and in fact the police union was furious.

    2) The authorities did not “implement a suit.” The driver brought a complaint to the Quebec Human Rights Commission, which rendered a decision.

    3) A restaurant is a poor analogy. A restaurant is a private establishment governed by the contractual relationship between owner and diner. The hospital’s cafeteria is publicly funded space (according to the Commission) is is bound by human rights legislation as well as contract.

    In short, there’s plenty of Anti-Semitism out there, but this isn’t an example of it.

  8. NAMELESS — Re: your 2:44 post, it did sound like the facts were murky on the “Kosher Section” issue. He says he was never informed of this option; they say he was. I will try to get a copy of the decision and will take a look (I work as a lawyer here in Canada).

  9. Here’s the story.
    The tech is someone who is not employed by this hospital.
    He brought in a patient and then proceeded to eat his own lunch ( bought or brought is irrelevant) in the kosher cafeteria. (whether it was anti-semetic or he didn’t want to go to the back of the bus is of course hearsay). He was asked to move to an employee designated eating space and when he refused he was evicted.
    Human right tribunal rulings are not enforceable. The plaintiff must pursue it in court.
    This case was furthered by the employee’s union.
    The issue is how do you balance personal preference of kosher without limiting the public’s right of access to a public institution.
    Having a policy of NO outside food within the confinesof the designated eating area addresses that.
    The hospital will be appealing.

  10. This is a horrible event for klal yisroel. It is adding insult to injury after the terrible anti-semetism that has plagued Montreal recently (including the arson fire in their school)

  11. Charedim
    The point I wanted to make was that it was a cafteria with a section EXCLUSIVLEY kosher. When he was asked to leave, and I’m sure they explained why,and told him to eat in the non Kosher. HE DIDNT CO OPERATE. WHY?

  12. NAMELESS — Sorry if I am not being clear enough. The precise issue is whether a public institution can have a space that is designated exclusively Kosher, complete with the right to evict anyone who doesn’t follow the rules. Private clubs and business can enforce certain discriminatory (not necesarily evil) by-laws; public institutions cannot.

    BAAL BOOSE — You are correct that the hospital wil llikely appeal, but you are incorrect that the fine is not enforceable. It is. Of course, if the hospital refuses to pay it, they can be “taken to court” to collect the debt (as with any debt, but this will likely not happen. The payment will not be made pending the appeal and we’ll hear about this again in 1-2 years. My bet is taht some kind of settlement/apology will be arrived at before then, along with a clarification or modification of the hospital’s policy. What makes this interesting is the current backdrop in Quebec in terms of the tension between secular society and religious rights (blocked gym windows, banned veils etc.)

  13. NAMELESS — Once again, the question is not why the driver didn’t cooperate; it is whether he HAD to cooperate. The Commission ruled that he did not.

  14. Charedim
    Your right but the question still remains on whether or not his NON co operation was a result of ANTI SEMITISM. THATS what is bothersome.

  15. There are several all kosher hospitals in North America. Beth Israel in Manhattan, Levendale in Baltimore and Weiler Memorial Formerly Einstein.

  16. 1) Einstein has had a kosher cafeteria for 30 plus years.
    2) If this Montreal Hospital recieves government money to subsidize their cafeteria, they tread on very thin ice. Sorry, fellow frum Jews, you can’t have it both ways.

  17. I used to live in Montreal and I have to say that while I understand Charedim’s rational break-down of what is going on, still, you have to know what Montreal’s Goyishe population is like.
    It is comprised mainly of french-speaking Separatists. These people believe in the idea of separating Quebec from Canada and establishing their own country. They say all they want to do is preserve their culture.
    What’s funny about this is how there is such an enormous Arab presence in Montreal, Quebec’s most important city. In fact, every time I visit, there is a noticeable increase of Arab employees at gas stations, banks, supermarkets, etc.
    These Separatists, who care so much about the preservation of their culture, are embracing and absorbing Arabs at an incredible rate. (It is mind-boggling to see how many young Goyishe Quebecers are married to Arabs.)
    Preserving their culture? Rubbish! These Separatists, much like the French in France, are despicable anti-semites, who have found common ground with our greatest enemy, Yishmael.
    When I go to Montreal now, I can feel the contempt ALL of the people there have for us.
    They are so righteous when it comes to fining the JGH for “violating the human rights” of a poor technician, who was “just trying to eat something” before going back to saving lives, and who REFUSED TO GO EAT ELSEWHERE. I know the type; I can assure you that he defiantly refused to go anywhere else. (The mashgiach at the hospital is a very gentle Ben-Torah, who, I am certain, asked the Goy very politely to go eat in the other section.)
    Would the same Human Rights Court rule in favor of the technician if this had taken place at an Arab hospital? I assure you that these ever-so-righteous anti-semites would rule in favour of their beloved Arab brothers.
    Disgusting!

  18. A precedent recently set in Virginia shows that the Muslim halal and kosher can be co-supervised by the same agency. In addition, is there an intrinsic human rights violation that occurs with kosher food?

    For instance, if a cow is in stall A at 9:30 AM, gets disconnected from the milking machine at 9:35, and the mashgiach walks in at 9:40, the milk produced at 9:45 is cholov Yisra’el. Were one to say, “we can’t drink this milk until 10:00” could one really claim “religious coercion?”

    At most, the hospital should be forced to put up clearer signage if the employee did not understand that there was a designated area in which he was free to consume his beloved treif. Perhaps an international symbol as well, a pig with an arrow?

  19. Nameless, Firstly, I agree with you here. I usually do not agree with you , but here I do. I am sorry if I have been a little Shtark with you in past postings, it is just that you touched a raw nerve when you were so outspoken about the whole issue with spending $ on a Shul. I put my life (and $), for 2 years, into building a shul.

    I wanted to respond, in an apologetic way, to the casino thing, but the Y.W. Editor closed the postings.

  20. Modern Orthodox:
    I would like to adress your second point.
    I cant believe that the Province of Quebec, who subsidize lots of Jewish Institutions(minimally the Frum private schools) are not aware of our dietery laws. If they WILLINGLY fund the cafeteria and I’m sure they realize being aJewish Hospital there is a Kosher section, how can they now ‘flip flop’ and support a comission on behalf of someone who PURPOSELY violated Kashrus issues.
    Either dont support a hospital with these critereias, or dont support those dont abide by the rules….cant have it both ways.

  21. To Daas Torah; “Anything but”
    PS Your facts are wrong also.
    PPS The previous leader of Quebec Leveck or something was an oihev Yisroel due to the fact he was a war photographer and was one of the first to liberate Aushwitz.

  22. To Daas Torah: We don’t need your daas torah even though it is not torah but thanks anyway and next time don’t state non-true facts.

  23. Nameless- your points are taken. We don’t know the facts- to what extent the cafteria budget, or the hospital itself- is government funded.

    Once you bring the PUBLIC sector into the private sector on a fiscal level, you have to be squeaky clean and cater to everyone’s needs- accomodations for everyone must be made-after all the government( composed of all the people) is funding you. It’s a difficult line that one has to tread very carefully. The hospital might be forced into opening a non- kosher section.

    Time will tell.

  24. Modern Orthodox: You may not realize that in Quebec there is no separation of church and state like in the US. The government subsidizes yeshivas, bais yaakovs, and for that matter Catholic and Protestant schools. They are not “trading on thin ice” by having a kosher kitchen and receiving gov’t funds. Of course in the US they would, but not in Canada.

  25. I say we stage a protest – everyone grab your chopped herring and onion sandwich and go to the local goyishe publicly funded place – when they kick us out, we file a complaint with the Human Rights commision!