North America

Canada: Quebec to tax unvaccinated amid omicron surge

Published : January 12, 2022 17:12 IST

Quebec premier Francois Legault announced a 'health contribution' at a press conference on January 11. Photo: Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press/empics/picture alliance

Quebec's premier said that the penalty would be "significant".

The eastern Canadian province of Quebec will impose a new health tax in the coming weeks on those who are not vaccinated against COVID-19, Quebec premier Francois Legault said on January 11. "We are working on a health contribution for all the adults who are refusing to get vaccinated," Legault said, adding that the vaccine is the "key to fighting the virus."

Unvaccinated 'clog up' hospitals

Legault said that the unvaccinated represent a "financial burden for all Quebecois" as they "clog" up Quebec hospitals. The amount of the penalty is yet to be decided, but Legault said that it would be "significant" and that it would not be less than 100 Canadian dollars (€70, $79.50). He said that those who are unvaccinated for medical reasons would be exempt from the penalty.

What is the coronavirus situation in Quebec?

Quebec has a high vaccination rate, with only 10 per cent of the population not having been vaccinated. The unvaccinated represented 50 per cent of people in intensive care, according to Quebec's premier. Quebec has been struggling to contain a new wave of infections brought about by the omicron variant of the coronavirus. On December 30, Quebec announced new restrictions, including a 10 p.m. curfew and a ban on private gatherings.

Quebec also announced it had no choice but to allow some essential workers to continue working even after testing positive for COVID-19 to prevent staff shortages. 2,742 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 and 255 people are in intensive care in Quebec. The province has 8 million inhabitants. Quebec has the highest coronavirus death toll in all of Canada, at 12,028. The province reported 62 more deaths on January 11.

sdi/aw (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)