Quebec Premier François Legault said on Tuesday that the province would impose a health tax on Quebecers who refuse to take their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in the coming weeks.
“We are looking for health contributions for adults who refuse vaccination for non-medical reasons,” Legault said at a news conference in which he called on Dr. Also announced an interim public health director to replace Horacio Aruda.
Aruda submitted his resignation letter on Monday evening, pointing to public criticism of recent health measures. Quebec imposed an overnight curfew ahead of New Year’s Eve, the second time it has done so during the pandemic.
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Legault didn’t say when the payment would be effective or how much it would cost, but he did say he wanted it to be enough to act as an incentive for vaccinations — more than $50 or $100, he said. Legault said details would emerge “in the coming weeks”.
He said the contribution could be included in people’s provincial tax filings, but he did not say whether it would be for 2021, which are to be filed by April 30, 2022.
look | ‘Health Contribution’ payment coming for unvaccinated Quebecers
“These people, they put a very significant burden on our health care network,” Legault said. “I think it’s fair that the majority of the population is asking that it will have consequences.”
Roughly 10 percent of Quebecers remain uninsured, but health officials say they account for about 50 percent of the COVID-19 beds in hospitals.
canceled some surgeries
Hospitals were dealing with serious staff shortages before the Omicron version spread in the province, which seriously exacerbated those shortages. Several regional health boards have had to cancel up to 80 percent of non-urgent and semi-urgent surgeries to free up staff to help with the COVID-19 transition.
Legault said his government was also considering further expanding the use of the province’s vaccination passports to businesses such as hairdressers and other personal care services, but he wanted to “go ahead” with the tax.
Starting January 18, customers will have to show their vaccine passports before entering SAQ and SQDC establishments, Quebec’s provincially run liquor and cannabis store.
“It’s a question of fairness for 90 percent of the population, who have made some sacrifices,” Legault said, referring to those who have had at least one vaccine dose. “I think we give them these kinds of measures.”
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