Quebec is set to tax unvaccinated residents while Canada’s health care system struggles

Quebec, Canada’s second most populous province, plans to force adults who refuse to receive COVID-19 vaccinations to pay a “health contribution” in a move likely to spur a debate on individual rights and social responsibility.

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

Sir. Legault said unvaccinated people place a financial burden on others and that the provincial Treasury Department set a “significant” amount that unvaccinated residents would be required to pay, adding that such an amount would not be less than $ 100 (110 USD).

Governments globally have imposed movement restrictions on the unvaccinated, but a comprehensive tax on all unvaccinated adults could be a rare and controversial feature.

Professor of Medicine and Health Sciences at McGill University, Carolyn Ells, said whether the charge survived a lawsuit would depend on the details.

But Mrs Ells expressed surprise that the government took such a “dramatic” step now that opportunities such as further expansion of vaccine mandates remained.

Vehicles line up during a ride through the COVID-19 vaccine clinic.
Vehicles are queuing at a passageway through the COVID-19 vaccine clinic.(AP: Lars Hagberg)

Provinces across Canada are tackling an exponential rise in COVID-19 cases that have forced tens of thousands of people into isolation and strained the health care sector.

The highly transmissible Omicron variant has made it difficult to take restrictive measures to slow the spread, and health experts have stressed the importance of being double- and triple-vaccinated.

Quebec has been one of the hardest hit Canadian provinces, regularly recording the highest daily number of coronavirus cases in any province and having thousands of healthcare workers free from their jobs.

Sir. Legault said that although about 10 percent of the province’s population was unvaccinated, these people accounted for about 50 percent of the patients in intensive care units.

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

On Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government had secured enough COVID-19 vaccine doses for all eligible Canadians to receive a booster as well as a fourth dose.

Last month, Quebec said it had “no choice” but to allow some significant workers to continue working, even after being tested positive for COVID-19 to prevent staff shortages from hindering its health services.

It has also set boundaries for assemblies.

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