Alberta correctional officers no longer required to be clean shaven

File: Picture of an Alberta Correctional Services vehicle. Global News

The Alberta government says it has changed a policy that required applicants seeking to become correctional peace officers to be clean shaven.

The province says in a news release that officers were required not to have facial hair so respiratory masks could fit as tightly as possible around the face.

Correctional peace officers use respiratory protective equipment to prevent exposure to highly toxic substances.

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But the province says it has purchased new equipment to accommodate facial hair, which will allow officers, regardless of religion or medical requirements, to work as correctional peace officers.

For many Sikh men, the requirement to be clean-shaven is incompatible with their faith.

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Officers without a medical or religious exemption will still be required to be clean shaven.

“I commend the Correctional Services division for rectifying this situation and for sourcing new personal protective equipment that will allow front-line correctional peace officers who are observant Sikhs to stay true to their faith and fulfil their duties in a safe manner,” Tyler Shandro, Alberta’s justice minister and solicitor general, said in the release Friday.

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Harman Kandola, the Alberta vice-president of the World Sikh Organization of Canada, applauded the decision to abolish the requirement, which was implemented in 2016.

“This gives more equal and fair opportunities to all individuals looking to become members of the correctional peace officers profession,” he said.

The new policy is effective immediately.

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