MONTRÉAL (CU)_The Canadian province of Quebec, which has reported the higher number of COVID-related deaths in the country, is currently struggling with a surge in infections on account of the omicron variant of the Coronavirus. Although less than 13 per cent of Quebec residents are not yet vaccinated, they reportedly make up almost half of all hospital cases. Accordingly, the province is set to be the first in the nation to financially penalise those who put this burden on the healthcare system.
Speaking during a news conference on Tuesday, Premier François Legault said that a “significant” financial penalty will be imposed on residents who have not received their first dose of vaccine, although the exact amount of the fee is yet to be revealed. “I think right now it’s a question of fairness for the 90% of the population who made some sacrifices,” he said. “I think we owe them this kind of measure.”
According to Legault, the tax would apply to all adults who refuse to get their first jab “in the next few weeks” for non-medical reasons. “It’s a question of equity because right now, these people, they put a very important burden on our health-care network. And I think it’s normal that the majority of the population is asking that there be a consequence,” he added. “And yes, we will continue to look at spreading the use of the vaccine passport, but I think we have to go further.”
Last week, the local government also announced that proof of vaccination will be required to shop at government cannabis and liquor stores. Meanwhile, a curfew is also in place from 22:00 to 05:00 each day.
COVID-related deaths in Quebec reached 12,028 on Tuesday, following 62 new fatalities registered in the previous 24-hour period. The figures are in line with those recorded a year ago, prior to the launch of widespread vaccination campaigns. According to provincial data, the percentage of unvaccinated COVID patients in intensive care stands at 45 per cent.