Covid: Canadian province of Quebec plans to impose health tax on unvaccinated adults

Around 10% of adults in Quebec have not had a Covid jab. Credit: AP

The Canadian province of Quebec has announced plans to charge a health tax on residents who refuse to get vaccinated against coronavirus for non-medical reasons.

Amid a surge of Covid cases, Premier François Legault said it would be the first in the nation to financially penalise the unvaccinated, who he says disproportionately burden the health care system.

Mr Legault said about 10% of adults in Quebec are unvaccinated, but they represent about 50% of intensive care patients.

Listen to our coronavirus podcast for the latest analysis

“Those who refuse to get their first doses in the coming weeks will have to pay a new health contribution,” he told a news conference, adding the amount of the penalty hasn't been decided, but will be "significant".

The contribution will be similar to the premium Quebec residents pay for public prescription drug insurance, which is collected through income tax returns.

Last week, the province, which is under a 10pm to 5am daily curfew, announced it would require proof of vaccination to shop in government cannabis and liquor stores. Quebec introduced the measures as it continues to battle a surge in cases, with its coronavirus death toll reaching 12,028 on Tuesday, the highest in Canada.

The Canadian province also reported 8,710 new cases on Tuesday, bringing the total number to 758,576 since the start of the pandemic.

Some measures put in place by the Quebec government include the closure of stores. Credit: AP

Hospitals in Montreal, the province's largest city, are coming close to reaching full capacity and have already started restricting non-Covid related care.

While rare, other country's have also started to impose financial penalties on the unvaccinated in order to ensure health care systems are not overwhelmed. In Greece, people older than 60 have until Sunday to get their first coronavirus jabs or be fined £85 (€100) for every month they remain unvaccinated. Austria’s health minister announced last month the government plans to impose fines of up to around £3,000 on people who flout a coronavirus vaccine mandate that it aims to introduce in February for all residents aged 14 and over.