Ontario will soon allow turban-wearing Sikhs to ride motorcycles without helmets, joining three other provinces in providing the exemption.
The Progressive Conservative government said Wednesday that the exemption which goes into effect Oct. 18 will recognize Sikh motorcycle riders’ civil rights and religious expression.
“The safety of our roads will always remain a priority,” Premier Doug Ford said in a statement.
“But our government also believes that individuals have personal accountability and responsibility with respect to their own well-being.”
Last week, Tory legislator Prabmeet Sarkaria tabled a bill to amend the Highway Traffic Act to allow the helmet exemption, but the government said Wednesday it would be bringing about the change through a regulation.
“I have been calling for a helmet exemption for turbaned Ontario Sikh motorcyclists for several years now,” Sarkaria said in a statement. “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.”
Turbaned Sikhs are already exempt from wearing motorcycle helmets in Alberta, Manitoba and British Columbia.
The United Kingdom implemented a motorcycle helmet exemption for Sikhs in 1976, the Ontario government noted.
Ford said the move to allow the helmet exemption came after listening to the Sikh community. He also said it fulfilled a promise made during the spring election campaign.