Quebec to begin taxing those who are unvaccinated

by mcardinal


Quebec, Canada’s second most populous province, is planning to force adults refusing to get COVID-19 vaccinated pay a “health contribution” in a move sure to spur further debate about individual rights and social responsibility.

Premier Francois Legault told reporters at a briefing on Tuesday that the proposal, details of which were still being finalized, would not apply to those who cannot get vaccinated for medical reasons.

Legault claimed that unvaccinated people are putting a financial burden on others by taking up hospital space and said the planned tax is a “matter of fairness.” He further said his administration is determining a “significant” amount that unvaccinated residents would be required to pay, adding that such an amount would not be less than C$100 ($79.50).

Quebec becomes the most recent government to impose movement restrictions on the unvaccinated but is one of a select few to levy fines on the elderly. This sweeping tax on all unvaccinated adults is a rare and controversial move.

McGill University medicine and health sciences professor Carolyn Ells questions whether it will be able to survive a court challenge, and that it would depend on the details of the legislation.

Ells also expressed surprise that the government was taking such a “dramatic” step now, when options such as further expanding vaccine mandates remain.

Quebec has been one of the worst-hit Canadian provinces, regularly recording the highest daily count of coronavirus cases of all provinces and having several thousand healthcare workers off their jobs.

“The vaccine is the key to fight the virus. This is why we’re looking for a health contribution for adults who refuse to be vaccinated for non-medical reasons,” Legault said.

Legault said that even though the province has about 10% unvaccinated people, they account for about 50% of those in intensive care units.

Legault and his CAQ party face a provincial election in October.

Last month, Quebec said it had “no choice” but to allow some essential workers to continue working even after testing positive for COVID-19 to prevent staff shortages from impeding its healthcare services. It has also imposed curbs on gathering.

(Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru and Anna Mehler Paperny in Toronto; Editing by Grant McCool, Jonathan Oatis and Marguerita Choy; Edits and Additions for FISM News by Michael Cardinal)

Copyright 2022 Thomson/Reuters