CORONAVIRUS – They are a “burden” for the health system: Quebec is preparing to toughen measures against those who refuse the Covid vaccine by implementing a new tax aimed directly at them. A national first in Canada.
This “health contribution”, as it has been called, the government of the French-speaking province of Canada hard hit by the Omicron wave wants it to represent a “significant amount” which is still under discussion.
According to Quebec Prime Minister François Legault, the 10% of Quebecers who have not received any vaccine dose to date must not “harm” the 90% who have been vaccinated. “It is not for all Quebecers to pay”, he hammered during a press conference speaking of a “financial burden for all Quebecers”.
“I am announcing that we are working on a health contribution which will be charged to all adults in Quebec who refuse to be vaccinated” announces PM François Legault. “It’s not true that 10% of the population will harm the 90%. “#polcan | #polqc | #COVID19pic.twitter.com/WUsyJUSi03
— CPAC (@CPAC_TV) January 11, 2022
The Quebec Prime Minister explained that if unvaccinated adults only represent 10% of the population, they account for 50% of people in intensive care, citing a “shocking” situation. This tax would not apply to people who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.
A simple solution to avoid paying: “a free and accessible vaccine”
“I understand and I feel this discontent with regard to the unvaccinated minority which comes, all things considered, to clog our hospitals”, he added. In total, 2,742 people with Covid are hospitalized in Quebec, which has about 8 million inhabitants and some 255 people are in intensive care.
According to the details provided by François Legault, the “health contribution” will not be applied in hospitals in exchange for medical acts, but claimed at the time of the tax declaration. “And to avoid paying this tax or a Covid-related fine, there is a very simple solution: free and accessible vaccination,” his chief of staff, Martin Koskinen, said on social networks.
In order to avoid paying a health contribution or a Covid fine, there is a simple solution: an accessible and free vaccine. We have rights, but also responsibilities. The democratic debate on this issue will be fascinating. 💉🦠🥊
– Martin Koskinen (@MartinKoskinen) January 11, 2022
A few days ago, Quebec had already announced that certain non-essential businesses would be banned for non-vaccinated people, starting with its stores selling alcohol and cannabis. In an attempt to stem the new wave, the province has also restored many restrictions since December 31, including the 10 p.m. curfew and the ban on private gatherings.
A measure that is not unanimous among the political class
While many other countries are increasing the pressure on the unvaccinated, like France and its vaccination pass, or Austria and Italy which are starting to make the vaccine compulsory, Quebec is the one of the first places to consider specific taxation for those who refuse the vaccine. In addition to very strong new restrictions aimed at stemming the spread of the Omicron variant.
But this strategy of the Government of Quebec, which is led by the Coalition Avenir Quebec, is criticized by many opposition parties. Éric Duhaime, the leader of the Conservative Party of Quebec, estimated on Twitter Tuesday that the Prime Minister continued “to find tools and even a new tax to divide Quebecers”.
For its part, the Quebec solidaire party deplores a measure that “completely” forgets vulnerable people and the leader of the Liberal Party of Quebec, Dominique Anglade, in favor of compulsory vaccination, evokes a “diversion”.
Finally, it should be noted that in Canada, at the national level this time, the federal government is studying the possibility of depriving unemployed Canadians of unemployment benefit who refuse to be vaccinated.
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