The Canadian province of Quebec has come up with the idea of imposing an extra tax on people who willingly chose not to take a vaccine against COVID-19. The measure has reportedly led to a collapse in vaccination centers with people rushing for appointments.
It's encouraging! said Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé on Twitter. According to Quebec health authorities, unvaccinated people account for a large share of COVID-19 hospitalizations.
Dubé said the number of new vaccine appointments shot up in the 48 hours around the announcement, reaching what he called a record for several days. Quebec has reported over 12,000 deaths due to COVID-19, more than any other Canadian province. With the Omicron variant driving new infections, officials recently ordered school closures and a 10 pm curfew.
Quebec Premier Francois Legault admitted only around 10% of Quebec's population was unvaccinated but that they make up 50% of all intensive care cases.
Those who refuse to get their first doses in the coming weeks will have to pay a new health contribution, Legault said Tuesday. The majority are asking that there be consequences. ... It's a question of fairness for the 90% of the population that have made some sacrifices. We owe them.
The Prime Minister also explained the health penalty would not apply to people with legitimate medical exemptions and is still to announce when exactly the new measure will be enacted.
Legault said that Quebec's schools and colleges were now cleared to reopen next week and that the curfew might be lifted on the same day.
Quebec has been trying to raise vaccination rates in a number of ways — including requiring a vaccine passport for anyone who wants to visit a liquor or cannabis store. In the province, roughly 90% of its eligible population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to Canada's COVID-19 tracker.
In another sign of the fallout over vaccines in the province, a judge recently temporarily suspended a father's visitation rights to see his child because he is unvaccinated.