Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday January 13, 2022
Quebec to impose a tax on people who are unvaccinated from COVID-19
Quebec is announcing it will impose a health tax on Quebecers who refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Quebec Premier François Legault made the announcement in Montreal on Tuesday afternoon, as the number of pandemic-related hospitalizations continues to climb.
“A health contribution will be charged to all adults that don’t want to get vaccinated. We are there now,” he said.
Legault said he felt the ire of the vaccinated towards the unvaccinated, whom he blamed for clogging up the province’s hospitals.
Only 10 per cent of the population is unvaccinated but they make up 50 per cent of patients in intensive care beds, according to the premier.
On Tuesday the province reported an increase of 188 patients with COVID-19 for a total of 2,742. Of those, 255 are in intensive care.
“Those who refuse to get the shot bring a burden to hospital staff and an important financial burden for the majority of Quebecers. It’s not true that the 10 per cent of the population will bring harm to the 90 per cent.”
Legault said there will be an exemption for those who can’t be vaccinated for medical reasons.
The government is still working out the amount that will have to be paid, but Legault said it would be “significant.”
“All Quebec adults who refuse in the coming weeks to at least get a first dose, will be getting a bill,” he said.
Legault touted vaccination as a key to success and urged Quebecers to get all their required doses, including booster shots.
Last week Health Minister Christian Dubé announced the province’s vaccine passport would be required to purchase liquor and cannabis at SAQ and SQDC stores as of Jan. 18.
Dubé also said its use would be expanded to include other non-essential businesses such as personal care services.
“I think right now it’s a question of fairness for the 90 per cent who made some sacrifices. I think we owe them this kind of measure,” he said of the new health subsidy.
Constitutional and human rights lawyer Julius Grey thinks the new measure could face legal challenges.
“Discriminatory taxes can be challenged but I’m not sure that’s what this is. What Premier François Legault is trying to do is make vaccination obligatory,” he said.
Grey added both the government and opponents could build a solid case for or against mandatory vaccination.
“On each side there would be rational argument and the courts would decide,” he said. “It would be a close call.” (Global News)