Citing the “huge burden” unvaccinated people place on health services, given they are more likely to become seriously ill with the virus, Quebec’s premier François Legault said introducing the tax would help increase jab uptake.
He said vaccination is the “key to our success” amid rising hospitalisation rates that threaten to overwhelm health services, which he warned are understaffed.
“Even though unvaccinated adults represent 10% of the population, they represent half of Covid hospitalisations in intensive care,” said Legault.
“It is a huge burden on our health network.
“This is why we are examining the establishment of a health contribution payable by all adults who refuse, for non-medical reasons, to be vaccinated.”
No figure has yet been decided, “but it will be a significant amount”, said the premier.
Canadian Institute of Health figures show a Covid-19 patient in intensive care costs an average of US$50 000 – seven times more than a patient with heart problems and nearly double a kidney transplant recipient.
Prime minister Justin Trudeau told reporters he is reviewing Quebec’s plan “with interest”, but others have been swift to criticise the idea.
“Allowing the government to levy fines on those who do not agree with the government’s recommended medical treatment is a deeply troubling proposition,” said Cara Zwibel, director of fundamental freedoms and acting general counsel for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.
“To justify this kind of restriction on constitutionally protected rights, the government must provide clear and compelling evidence and demonstrate that there were no other reasonable alternatives.” –Public Finance Focus