Quebec Plans Health Tax For Residents Who Refuse COVID-19 Vaccine

(Reuters) -
Premier of Quebec François Legault, in November, 2021. (Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Quebec, Canada’s second-most populous province, is working on a plan to require a “health contribution” from adults who refuse to get a COVID-19 vaccination for non-medical reasons, Premier Francois Legault said on Tuesday.

Legault said that unvaccinated people put a financial burden on vaccinated residents and in addition to finalizing the amount to be charged, the province is also working on the legal aspect of such a levy, he said.

While governments globally have imposed movement restrictions on the unvaccinated and few have levied fines on the elderly, a sweeping tax on all unvaccinated adults could be a rare and controversial move.

“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 told reporters at a briefing.

Provinces across Canada are tackling an exponential rise in COVID-19 cases that has forced tens of thousands of people into isolation and burdened the healthcare sector.

Hospitals in Quebec are stretched after the highly transmissible Omicron coronavirus variant brought in more COVID-19 patients and took healthcare workers off their jobs.

“We need to focus our efforts on two things: getting the first, second and third doses of a vaccine and reducing our contacts, especially with older people,” Legault said.

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

People who cannot get vaccinated for medical reasons would be exempt under the proposal, Legault said.

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