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Sikhs with turbans will be exempt from wearing motorcycle helmets starting next Thursday, Premier Doug Ford says, revving up concerns over higher medical and insurance costs.
Highway Traffic Act regulations are being changed to fulfil Ford’s election promise of a helmet reprieve on religious grounds, which the previous Liberal government refused to do for safety reasons despite years of lobbying from the Canadian Sikh Association.
“Soon we will have a right to ride with our pride,” the Sikh Motorcycle Club of Ontario posted on its Facebook page Wednesday.
British Columbia, Manitoba and Alberta already have helmet exemptions for Sikh motorcyclists, as does the United Kingdom. Helmets often do not fit over turbans, which take time to put on and take off.
“The safety of our roads will always remain a priority,” Ford said in a statement Wednesday. “But our government also believes that individuals have personal accountability and responsibility with respect to their own well-being.”
So contentious is the issue that the premier held a news event in Brampton mainly for the local Punjabi media, excluding the Queen’s Park press corps.