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Quebec Walks Back Threats of Tax to Punish the Unvaccinated

Neil lives in Canada and writes about society and politics.
Published: February 2, 2022
Quebec walked back its threats of a tax against the unvaccinated after the scare tactic failed to move the needle on vaccine acceptance among the remaining holdouts.
Canadian flags hang on the Trans Canada Highway as support for the"Freedom Convoy" protest in Rigaud, Quebec on January 28, 2022. Quebec Premier Francois Legault was forced to walk back a threat to install a financial penalty in the form of a tax against the unvaccinated after it did little to stimulate vaccine acceptance. (Image: ANDREJ IVANOV/AFP via Getty Images)

The government of Canada’s francophone province, Quebec, announced it will walk back a threat to implement a financial penalty that was speculated to have been enforced in the form of a tax against hundreds of thousands of citizens who are eligible, yet still declining the novel gene therapy Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines.

Feb. 1 reporting by Canada’s deep-left establishment business paper Globe and Mail stated that Premier Francois Legault claimed that he wished “to extend a hand to the unvaccinated” because he is experiencing “a certain anxiety seeing the Quebec people divided” during a press conference announcing the change of tune.

In mid-January, amid a series of increasingly escalating rhetoric and measures targeting the unvaccinated, such as installing vaccine passports at liquor, cannabis retailers and all big box retail stores except for stores that are exclusively grocers and changing fully vaccinated passport status to require accepting a booster, Legault postured at an impending fine against the unvaccinated.

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“This is why we’re looking for a health contribution for adults that refuse to be vaccinated for non-medical reasons. Those who refuse to receive their first dose in the coming weeks will have to pay a new health contribution,” he directly stated at a press conference.

Legault’s measures and threats appear to have done little, albeit more than nothing, to stimulate vaccine acceptance.

As of Jan. 12 when Legault made the statements, 89.639 percent of all eligible (aged 5+) Quebecors had accepted at least one dose of an injection. Twenty days later, as of time of writing, that number has increased marginally to 90.763 percent according to COVID-19 Tracker Canada.

At the time the threat of a tax on the unvaccinated was made, there were slightly more than 924,000 eligible citizens in the Province who had still declined injection. The 1 percent increase in vaccine acceptance equates to more than 90,000 Quebecors who rolled up their sleeve in the time since.

The night before Legault announced the pending tax, Quebec’s Director of Public Health Horacio Arruda suddenly resigned, stating in his resignation letter that, “Recent comments about the credibility of our opinions and our scientific rigor are undoubtedly causing a certain erosion of public support.”

In mid-January, Quebec’s opposition Conservative Party dug up a video of Arruda stating during a French-language press conference in October of 2020 that he would quit his position if the government ever attempted to install measures he felt were “bulls**t” because he preferred maintaining his credibility over his status as an official.

“In such a context, I consider it appropriate to offer you the possibility of replacing me before the end of my term of office,” Arruda stated in his resignation letter of a contract not set to expire until August of 2023.

The Globe reported that Legault said during his retraction of taxation threats, “But on the other hand we’re seeing impatience from Quebeckers, who are fed up. I would even say there’s a question of mental health and even of social peace.”

Restaurants, theaters, cinemas, indoor sports, and gyms and spas will all begin reopening in the coming weeks as the Province emerges from a total lockdown complete with a 10:00 p.m. curfew that implicated the Province’s overwhelmingly fully vaccinated majority.