No vax, pay taxes, says Quebec of Canada as healthcare system struggles

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Jan. 11 (Reuters) – Quebec, the second most populous province in Canada, plans to force adults who refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to pay a “health contribution”, a measure likely to spark debate over individual rights and social responsibility.

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

Unvaccinated people place a financial burden on others and the provincial finance ministry determines a “significant” amount that unvaccinated residents would be required to pay, Legault said, adding that such an amount would not be less than C $ 100. ($ 79.50).

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Governments around the world have imposed movement restrictions on unvaccinated people and few have imposed fines on the elderly, but a drastic tax on all unvaccinated adults could be a rare and controversial move.

While such a tax may be justified in the context of a health emergency, said Carolyn Ells, professor of medicine and health sciences at McGill University, her survival in a court challenge would depend on the details.

But Ells said he was surprised the government would take such a “dramatic” step now, as options such as extending vaccine mandates remain.

Provinces across Canada face an exponential increase in COVID-19 cases that has forced tens of thousands of people into self-isolation and weighed on the health sector.

The highly transmissible variant of Omicron has made it difficult to put restrictive measures in place to curb the spread, and health experts have stressed the importance of getting vaccinated two or three times.

Quebec has been one of the hardest hit, regularly recording the highest daily number of coronavirus cases of any province and having several thousand unemployed healthcare workers.

“The vaccine is the key to fighting the virus. This is why we are looking for a health contribution for adults who refuse to be vaccinated for non-medical reasons, ”said Legault.

Legault said that although the province has about 10% unvaccinated people, they make up about 50% of people in intensive care units.

Legault and his CAQ party face provincial elections in October.

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

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. hamper its health services. He also imposed restrictions on gatherings. Read more

($ 1 = 1.2578 Canadian dollars)

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Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru and Anna Mehler Paperny in Toronto; Editing by Grant McCool, Jonathan Oatis and Marguerita Choy

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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