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Thousands sign up for 1st dose of COVID-19 vaccine in Quebec

TORONTO – It is nice to be an anti vaxxer, until they touch your wallet. It is a real boom in first doses of vaccine in Quebec two days after the announcement by Prime Minister Francois Legault on the provincial government’s intention to impose a financial penalty in the form of a “health tax” for Quebec adults who are unvaccinated and are not in possession of a valid medical exemption. 

A decision, that of the executive of the French-speaking province, dictated by the serious difficulties that the health system is experiencing under the weight of the Omicron variant. Every day there is a new record punctually with regard to infections, hospitalizations, hospitalizations in intensive care and, unfortunately, deaths. Legault justified the intention to impose this tax on non-vax people with the observation that the unvaccinated, despite representing only 10 percent of the adult population, occupy at least half of the beds in intensive care.

The provincial minister of health Christian Dubé said that in one day more than 7 thousand people made the reservation to receive the first dose of vaccine. An encouraging number – commented the minister – which could grow exponentially in the coming days and weeks.

Meanwhile, in the rest of Canada, the debate continues on the feasibility of the measure announced by the prime minister of Quebec. There are possible constitutional difficulties, as denounced by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, which pointed out that such a measure would almost certainly be declared unconstitutional if brought to court after being approved by the Legislative Assembly of Quebec. According to the organization, medical and health choices are part of the person and private sphere of the individual citizen and the State – in this case the Province – has no power with the creation of divisive obligations.

This is a rather questionable thesis. Just think of the numerous vaccines that have been mandatory for decades – chickenpox, measles, meningitis and so on – without which, for example, children cannot attend public schools. Ontario has already made it known that it will not follow the path taken by the premier of the French-speaking province. Both Chief Medical Officer Kieran Moore and Prime Minister Doug Ford on Wednesday rejected taxing the unvaccinated with an additional tax. Previously, Alberta Prime Minister Jason Kenney and Saskatchewan Prime Minister Scott Moe had also spoken negatively.

At the federal level, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not express himself openly on the controversial issue, but underlined how in this pandemic some strong measures have proven to be the most effective to counter the virus and limit the contagion of Covid-19. The Federal Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos last week had invited the Provinces and Territories to start a debate on the hypothesis of the vaccination obligation, a scenario that, at least for now, has not been taken into account even in Quebec.

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