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Canada’s Quebec pressing ahead with plan to tax unvaccinated, details soon

/ 06:47 AM January 14, 2022
A bus carrying Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) medical personnel arrives at Villa Val des Arbres,  a seniors' long-term care centre, to help amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Montreal, Quebec, Canada April 20, 2020. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi

A bus carrying Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) medical personnel arrives at Villa Val des Arbres, a seniors’ long-term care centre, to help amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Montreal, Quebec, Canada April 20, 2020. (REUTERS)

OTTAWA  –  The Canadian province of Quebec is pressing ahead with a plan to levy a “health contribution” on adults refusing to get COVID-19 inoculations and will unveil details soon, premier Francois Legault said on Thursday.

Legault unveiled the proposal on Tuesday, sparking a nationwide debate about how far governments could go to ensure widespread vaccinations as the Omicron variant spreads.

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Ontario, the most populous of the 10 provinces, rejected the idea on the grounds it was punitive.

A bill will be presented to the Quebec legislature for a debate early next month, Legault told reporters, dismissing opposition accusations that it would unfairly target the homeless, sick people and the mentally ill.

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“There is no question of harming people who are in trouble. Our aim is to tell people who choose not to get vaccinated that there will be a price to pay because there will be an impact on society and how much our healthcare system costs,” he said.

Quebec says the contribution would be at least C$100 ($80). The idea may be lawful but could go against the spirit of Canada’s universal public health system, rights and medical experts say.

Legault said experts felt cases of COVID-19 had peaked a few days earlier and if all went well, they hoped hospitalizations caused by the virus would eventually decline significantly.

He also announced the province would next Monday scrap a curfew imposed late last month to stop the spread of Omicron.

Ontario, which together with Quebec accounts for more than 60% of the country’s population, said separately that Omicron transmissions could peak in the next few weeks.

“We are not yet out of the woods,” Ontario chief medical officer Kieran Moore told a briefing, stressing the need to continue vaccination efforts.

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