Freedom of religion is a fundamental right in Canada, written into the Constitution. As a protected right, believers have freedom to assemble without limitation and interference. Neither the government nor anyone else, can force an individual to practice a certain religion.
Enter Byron Wood, a nurse with substance abuse issues. After being admitted to hospital and diagnosed, his license was suspended by the College of Registered Nurses of British Columbia. His employer Vancouver Coastal Health and the BC Nurses Union were notified and an assessment was required. The doctor recommended an Alcoholics Anonymous program in Ontario and this is where the problems arose.
Among other complaints, Wood objected since he's an atheist and AA is a faith based program. He felt being forced into a religious program was a violation of his rights and so he offered alternatives but his requests were refused.
He was told all addictions doctors available through Vancouver Coastal Health recommend AA and there were no other options. After refusing to enter a religious based program, he was fired. Mr. Wood filed a complaint with the BC Human Rights Tribunal and they’ve agreed to review his complaint.
His other complaints aside, this is a no brainer – the Constitution guarantees that people have the right to practice, or NOT practice, religion freely in Canada.
Photo Credit: Lwp Kommunikáció