Fresh from banning people who refuse to get vaccinated against Covid-19 from entering liquor stores or cannabis shops, Canada’s Quebec province is unveiling a new health tax for the unjabbed.
Premier Francois Legault vowed on Tuesday to enact the new financial penalty, saying those who refuse to get their first vaccine dose in the coming weeks will have to start paying for their impact on the health care system. “Right now, it’s a question also of fairness for the 90% of the population who made some sacrifices,” he told reporters. “I think we owe them this kind of measure.”
Asked about the legal and ethical challenges that the government will likely face over the unprecedented tax, the prime minister acknowledged that the move is a “big deal.” He added, “If you look at what’s happening in other countries or other states, everybody is trying to find a solution. It’s a question of equity because right now, these people, they put a very important burden on our health care network, and I think it’s normal that the majority of the population is asking that there be a consequence.”
Legault didn’t disclose the amount of the new tax. He said Quebec will continue expanding application of the province’s vaccine passport requirements, but he argued that “we have to go further” than banning unvaccinated residents from public places. The passport mandate was extended to liquor and cannabis stores last week after previously being ordered for entrance to such venues as restaurants, theaters, bars and casinos.
With Covid-19 hospitalizations rising amid rapid spread of the Omicron variant, Quebec will need an additional 1,000 hospital workers and 1,500 nursing home staffers within the next few weeks, Legault said.
However, it’s not only unjabbed Quebeckers who are straining the province’s health care system. In fact, most of the new Covid-19 patients are fully vaccinated. Of the 433 new patients who checked in for Covid-19 treatment in the past day, 117 were reportedly unvaccinated, while 290 were double-jabbed. Among patients newly admitted to intensive-care units, 12 were unvaccinated, while 17 were double-vaccinated.
Quebec reported 62 Covid deaths on Tuesday, the most since January 2021, before the province’s vaccine rollout was in full swing.
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