The fine would not apply to those with a medical exemption, and no details have been announced. However, Legault said the amount to be levied would be “significant.”
Nearly 90% of eligible Quebecers have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to the Quebec government.
The premier’s big news came with few details, however. The amount of the penalty is yet to be determined, as is how and when it would be applied.
Liberal Opposition Leader Dominique Anglade suggested Legault rushed the announcement to distract people.
“We didn’t hear anything about a safe return to school for our children, more rapid tests, a resumption of surgeries,” Anglade tweeted on Tuesday after the premier’s news conference. She described Legault’s announcement as a “smoke show” that lacked detail.
Dr. Horacio Arruda resigned as public health director on Monday night, after the Quebec government faced weeks of criticism from the opposition and pundits for its handling of the latest wave of COVID-19.
The latest restrictions – including a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew – are some of the strictest in the country.
Raisa Berlin Deber, a health policy professor at the University of Toronto, said she thinks a tax on the unvaccinated would be allowed under the Canada Health Act, which governs the country’s provincially run universal health-care systems.
If the government planned to charge people without a COVID-19 vaccine for health care, that would be a different story, she said. “But if I just say there’s a tax on you if you’re not vaccinated, that’s not related to your access to specific health-care services,” Deber said.
Dube said around 50 per cent of COVID-19 cases in Quebec hospitals are people admitted for other reasons who test positive during routine screenings. But even without those cases, Quebec’s health system would be still be struggling to provide quality and timely care to everyone who needed it, he said.