No vax? Pay the tax: Quebec to impose 'health contribution' on unvaccinated workers

While there's no specified amount yet, premier says it is 'significant'

No vax? Pay the tax: Quebec to impose 'health contribution' on unvaccinated workers

Quebec Premier Francois Legault announced on Tuesday that the province will impose a financial penalty for unvaccinated citizens, becoming the first province in Canada to introduce such measures.

"Those who refuse to get their first doses in the coming weeks will have to pay a new health contribution," Legault said as quoted by ABC News.

The policy is yet to be finalised and the premier clarified that it will not cover those who are unvaccinated with valid medical exemptions. The price of the financial penalty was also not yet disclosed, ABC reported, but Legault said this will be "significant."

"The majority are asking that there be consequences. ... It's a question of fairness for the 90% of the population that have made some sacrifices. We owe them," Legault was quoted as saying by ABC News. He added that while only 10% of the population remain unvaccinated, they account for about 50% of patients who are utilising intensive care unit beds.

There’s no denying the move will be a polarising one. As tension between vaxed and unvaxxed employees reaches breaking point, HR leaders are left wondering the best path to proceed. For Angela Champ, senior vice president of HR at Alpine Building Maintenance, Quebec’s decision to tax the unjabbed is reflective of a shift in global organizational and governmental strategy.

“Federal and regional governments around the world have been using the ‘carrot’ approach to incentivize and encourage their citizens to protect themselves and their community from the spread of COVID-19,” Champ to HRD. “However, with a still-too-large population unvaccinated, COVID-19 is mutating and spreading and so governments are moving to a ‘stick’ approach instead.  So many people have become infected or hospitalized that it's not just putting a burden on the health care system, which in many provinces is one of the largest employers, but on other organizations and throughout the supply chain.

“Quebec's approach seems to be working - as of this morning, 7,000 people registered for their first dose. We need to do our part to reduce the burden on employees who pick up the extra work when their colleagues are off sick, to reduce the impact that having people off has on the economy in general, and to protect our health-care workers.”

Reactions

The announcement of the new measure created a storm of opinions on social media, where people are also divided on whether to agree with the take or not. Some, like public speaker and podcast host Emily Brandwin and Alvin Tedjo, agreed with the policy.

Tedjo also said he is not against it and is "in-line" with what he has in mind.

"We already tax people for smoking, drinking, and things that will cost the health care system more because of their personal choices. Seems in-line with that thinking and I’m not against it," he said.

However, Lucy Dadayan, a senior research associate, called Quebec's healthcare system a disaster and the government should fix it.

Tanya Granic Allen, Counterpoint host, also slammed the new measure as "disgusting."

Stay tuned into HRD for any impeding updates on this story.

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