It’s official, Sikhs who wear turbans will now be exempt from wearing motorcycle helmets in Ontario.
Premier Doug Ford, along with Prabmeet Sarkaria (Brampton MPP and Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Community Safety) announced the change in Brampton on Wednesday.
Last week Sarkaria tabled Bill 41, which would add an amendment to the Highway Traffic and Safety Act in Ontario, exempting Sikh motorcyclists from the helmet rules in recognition of their civil rights and religious expression.
“I have been calling for a helmet exemption for turbaned Ontario Sikh motorcyclists for several years now,” said MPP Sarkaria. “The wearing of the turban is an essential part of the Sikh faith and identity, and exemptions for Sikhs have been successfully implemented in other provinces in Canada and across the world.”
Currently three provinces in Canada — Alberta, British Columbia and Manitoba — have helmet exemptions for Sikhs, so Ontario isn’t the first.
Critics say that no one should be exempt from the laws but Ford maintains that while road safety will stay a top priority, his government also “believes that individuals have personal accountability and responsibility with respect to their own well-being.”