December 20, 2017

Non-Christian doctors volunteer to cover Christmas shifts

Non-Christian doctors volunteer to cover Christmas shifts

With Christmas day just around the corner, a new festive tradition has taken off in many hospitals in Canada. In order to free colleagues up to spend time celebrating with their families and friends, non-Christian doctors have been volunteering to cover their shifts.

The practice has been reported amongst various religious groups, with Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu doctors, amongst others, taking part. Many who volunteer to cover shifts report that colleagues return the favor when their own religious holidays come around.
"I was raised in a Hindu household, my family has never formally celebrated Christmas, so I always volunteered to work on Christmas Day," says Dr. Tanu Sharma, a physician in Cambridge, Ontario.
"The spirit of Christmas and the concept of family unity still holds strong for me. This is one of the reasons I work on Christmas ... it enables my colleagues, all of whom work so hard and sacrifice other holidays, evenings, and weekends away from their children, to be with their families."

Dr. Ahmed Taher, a resident physician at the University of Toronto, suggests that Canada's cultural diversity has made it much easier to secure time off for special religious occasions.

“Working in Canada, it's been very straightforward to book time off for religious holidays,” he says. “I have some family in Egypt, it's a Muslim majority country at this point, and usually someone has to be on-call for work, everyone wants the same time off, like Eid for example."

Writing for IZA World of Labor, Paul Spoonley identifies Canada as an example of a “superdiverse” society, a term referring to the presence of a large number or percentage of immigrants and people of different ethnicities in a society or area (a quarter of all Canadian residents were born in another country, rising to 45% in Toronto).

“Anxieties about the growing diversity of labor markets and communities have been associated with discrimination and anti-immigrant politics,” he writes.

“[However] diversity creates an environment for the cross-fertilization of ideas that contributes to creativity and innovation. Studies [also] find a diversity dividend of higher productivity and innovation for regions and cities with large immigrant populations.”

Read more articles about migration policy.

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