Quebec has announced it will make unvaccinated residents pay a “health contribution” fee, making it the first Canadian jurisdiction to impose a financial penalty on the unvaxxed.
Quebec Premier François Legault made the announcement Tuesday, stating that the vaccine is the key to fighting COVID-19 and that any adult who doesn’t have a medical exemption from the vaccine will have to pay a “significant” fee. He said unvaccinated people are causing an extra burden to the healthcare system—more than half of people in intensive care units in Quebec are unvaccinated.
“Those who refuse to receive their first dose in the coming weeks will have to pay a new health contribution,” Legault said.
According to CBC News, Legault said the tax would be more than $50 or $100, but he didn’t give a concrete amount. He said it should act as an incentive to get people vaccinated.
The province has laid out some of the toughest rules in North America amid the Omicron wave, implementing a 10 p.m. curfew and barring unvaccinated folks from weed and liquor stores as of next Tuesday. The latter restriction resulted in first-dose appointments quadrupling last week, according to Health Minister Christian Dubé; Dubé said other non-essential businesses will follow suit. Quebec will also require people to have three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine to constitute a valid vaccine passport.
While Quebec’s anti-vax tax is an outlier in Canada, other countries have taken similar measures. Greece is fining people over 60 who refuse to get vaccinated 100 euros ($143) a month, while Austria is planning to fine unvaccinated people 14 and older up to 3,600 euros ($5,148) every quarter.