The Canadian province of Quebec announced earlier this month plans to impose a “health contribution” tax on residents who refuse to take the COVID-19 vaccine for reasons unrelated to medical history.
“We are working on a health contribution for all the adults who are refusing to get vaccinated,” Quebec Premier Francois Legault said before accusing unvaccinated individuals of being a “financial burden” on the region, The New York Post reported.
“Those who refuse to get the shot bring a financial burden to hospital staff and Quebecers. The 10% of the population can’t burden the 90%,” he added.
Legault said that while officials have not decided on how much the tax will be, he noted the amount will be “significant.”
“I think right now it’s a question of fairness for the 90 percent of the population who made some sacrifices. I think we owe them this kind of measure,” the premier said, adding, “I feel this discontent with regard to the unvaccinated minority which, all things considered, clogs our hospitals.”
Last week, the premier for the Canadian province of Ontario said cases of the Omicron variant had waned, prompting officials in the area to begin gradually easing COVID-19 restrictions, according to Reuters.
“We can be confident that the worst is behind us and that we are now in a position to cautiously and gradually ease public health measures,” Premier Doug Ford said. “While February will continue to present its own challenges, given current trends these are challenges we are confident we can manage.”
While neighboring Quebec has seen similar trends in COVID-19 cases, Premier Legault said restrictions would be maintained to help safeguard the health care system.
“I understand we are all tired, but lives are at stake. I’m currently under a lot of pressure to remove measures, but my duty is to be responsible to protect the lives of Quebecers,” Legault said.
A recent poll by the Angus Reid Institute found nearly 40 percent of Canadians are “struggling with their mental health” as the government response to the COVID-19 pandemic continues to help create a “fatigued, frustrated, and anxious” population.
When asked specifically about their feelings in recent weeks, almost half of Canadians said they’re feeling “fatigued,” while 40 percent said they’re “frustrated.” Another 37 percent said they’ve been “anxious” and 23 percent said “depressed.”
“The demand for mental health-care has increased to the point where even psychiatrists are feeling burnt out and taking a step back from the profession to recover,” the report stated. “Whether it’s the enforced social distancing, isolation, the fear of infection, or the result of public health restrictions keeping Canadians from activities they enjoy, there are myriad potential causes for negative mental health impacts.”