Covid: Quebec to impose 'health tax' on unvaccinated as region struggles with a surge of cases

Only about 12.8% of Quebec residents are not vaccinated, but they make up nearly half of all hospital cases as the region struggles with a surge of Covid cases.

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Canada's second most populous province, is planning to force adults refusing to get COVID-19 vaccinated pay a "health contribution" in a move likely to spur a debate about individual rights and social responsibility.

Premier Francois Legault told reporters at a briefing in Quebec City on Tuesday (January 11) that the proposal, details of which were still being finalized, would not apply to those who cannot get vaccinated for medical reasons.

Premier Francois Legault outlines plans to tax the unvaccinated in Quebec.
Premier Francois Legault outlines plans to tax the unvaccinated in Quebec.

Quebec, which has seen the highest number of Covid-related deaths in Canada, is currently struggling with a surge in cases.

Unvaccinated people put a financial burden on others and the provincial finance ministry is determining 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).

Only about 12.8% of Quebec residents are not vaccinated, but they make up nearly half of all hospital cases.

According to federal data, just over 85% of Quebec residents had received at least one vaccine dose by 1 January.

Governments globally have imposed movement restrictions on the unvaccinated and few have levied fines on the elderly, but a sweeping tax on all unvaccinated adults could be a rare and controversial move.

Quebec has been one of the worst-hit Canadian provinces for COVID-19 infections, regularly recording the highest daily count of coronavirus cases of all provinces.