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Montreal bans HIV-positive police officers

Montreal bans HIV-positive police officers

Montreal's city council on Monday adopted new hiring guidelines that say HIV-positive applicants to the city's police force will be refused employment, The [Montreal] Gazette reports. Peter Yeomans, the council's executive committee member in charge of public security, says the decision to ban HIV-positive police officers is designed to protect the public and to ensure that newly hired officers will be able to work in the city long-term. Montreal police are currently given physical exams at the provincial police academy in Nicolet, Canada, before being hired by the force. The exams include blood and urine samples, but HIV antibody screenings are currently conducted only if the applicants request the tests or the doctors conducting the exams see evidence that an applicant may be ill. It was unclear whether the city council planned to change the procedure so that all applicants will be screened for HIV infection. AIDS activists quickly slammed the decision and said it may violate Quebec's nondiscrimination policy. "To exclude someone from a job who's going to be able to function for many, many years is just discrimination and is giving in to a public fear that has resurged in the last two weeks," says Ken Monteith, executive director of AIDS Community Care. Monteith was also referring to a recently announced decision by a Catholic seminary in Montreal to begin screening applicants for HIV infection and possibly barring those who test positive for HIV antibodies. The Quebec Human Rights Commission is already investigating a complaint filed by AIDS groups against the seminary. A similar complaint is likely to be filed against the city of Montreal and the police department if the HIV-screening policy is enacted. The Quebec Charter prohibits job discrimination based on disabilities. Human rights commission members say that the commission has ruled in the past that an employer cannot order health tests such as HIV antibody screenings unless they are directly related to the job.

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