"It does, in my mind, seem punitive."
Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore politely but firmly rejected the idea of imposing a fine on the unvaccinated in Ontario after Quebec Premier François Legault announced the province would introduce its own so-called "unvaxxed tax."
"We have not made that recommendation to government, ever, throughout this pandemic. It's not one that we would bring forward," Moore said at a January 12 press conference.
"We have always been supportive of adults making informed decisions for vaccination."
Calling the measure "punitive," the province's top doctor said Ontario has instead focused on "[increasing] availability and accessibility." The only setting where the province has imposed a vaccine mandate are long-term care facilities where, Moore said, "the increased risk of severe outcomes had to be balanced by maximizing immunization."
His comments echoed those of other critics who have argued that the unvaccinated tax will unfairly punish members of vulnerable populations, such as unhoused Quebecers and people with mental health problems.
Legault has said the tax is justified because the unvaccinated are putting a disproportionate strain on the health care network, occupying 50% of intensive care unit beds even though they represent only 10% of the total population. He called the tax an additional "health contribution."
The Quebec government has not yet said how much the tax will be, though Legault said he's aiming for a "significant" sum.
Nationwide, the federal health minister, Jean-Yves Duclos, has predicted provinces will move in the coming months to mandate vaccination against COVID-19.
"Given the fragility of our health care system in the country, the aging of the population, the rising costs of taking care of everyone, I think that this kind of measure, which is not currently under consideration [...] will be part of the discussions, reflections and even actions of the provinces and territories in the long term," Duclos said on January 7.
Health Canada has a robust website with all the latest information on COVID-19 vaccines and can answer any questions you may have.
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