He also outlined next steps.
At a press conference on Thursday, Quebec Premier François Legault outlined the next steps his government would take for the "health contribution" tax on unvaccinated people and clarified his own position on the issue.
"The intention isn't to hurt people who are going through a hard time," explained the premier. "I'm talking about the homeless, people who have illnesses that exempt them from being vaccinated, even people who have certain mental health issues [...] what we envision is to say to people who choose not to get vaccinated that there's a price to pay."
News of Quebec's intention to levy a "significant" tax on the roughly 10% of people who are still unvaccinated was met with much criticism.
Some, including Québec Solidaire leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, suggested that such a fine would unfairly punish members of vulnerable populations who may not have been able to receive a vaccine dose.
The premier has justified the tax by pointing out what he called the disproportionate "impact" the unvaccinated have "on society and health networks."
"It's also an initiative aiming to protect them because [...] we see that some people are now choosing to get vaccinated ahead of there being this health contribution," he explained.
There will be a debate on it in the National Assembly, however, with all opposition parties having the opportunity to vote on the issue, the premier promised.
Quebec reported 8,793 new COVID-19 cases on January 13. Hospitalizations increased by a net 117 patients for a total of 2,994, including 272 in intensive care, a net increase of nine. The province also officially introduced a "level five" protocol for hospital capacity, with a total of 3,493 hospital beds dedicated to patients with COVID-19.
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