OHS Canada Magazine

Quebec backtracks on taxing unvaccinated to maintain ‘social peace’


MONTREAL — Quebec Premier Francois Legault said Tuesday he is abandoning his threat to tax the unvaccinated because he is worried about how much the idea has divided Quebecers.

“When we see what’s happening in our society and on social media, I have a certain worry about seeing Quebecers divided,” Legault told reporters in Quebec City.

Finance Minister Eric Girard had prepared a bill to tax Quebecers who refused to get vaccinated against COVID-19 without a medical reason, Legault said, but the legislation will not be tabled.

Legault said his role is to ensure a climate of “social peace and a certain social cohesion” in the province.

He had announced on Jan. 11 that Quebec would break new ground by making the unvaccinated pay a significant financial penalty because they were overrepresented in the health-care system. About 10 per cent of the province’s eligible population is unvaccinated.

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Also Tuesday, Legault announced that gyms and spas would be allowed to reopen in the province on Feb. 14, but he stopped short of easing further restrictions. Though the number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals dropped by 426 in one week, he said the hospital network is still under tremendous pressure.

The Health Department said Tuesday COVID-19-related hospitalizations dropped by 36 from the day before, to 2,852, after 207 people were admitted to the province’s hospitals and 243 were discharged. The number of people in intensive care dropped by five, to 218. Officials reported 63 more deaths linked to the pandemic.

Legault said, the 2,852 patients “is still a lot of people in hospital.”