TORONTO – A proposal by Quebec to tax unvaccinated individuals could also be lawful however might also go towards the spirit of Canada’s common public well being system, rights and medical consultants stated on Wednesday.
Tuesday’s shock announcement by the province’s premier, Francois Legault, got here with few particulars.
Whereas his authorities wouldn’t say Wednesday how the tax could be levied, when or towards whom, Canada’s Civil Liberties Affiliation stated it might violate Canadians’ elementary rights, whereas well being advocates expressed concern about its broader implications.
“I’ve not seen something like this in Canada earlier than. I’m nervous in regards to the precedent it might set,” stated Danyaal Raza, a physician with Unity Well being in Toronto and former chair of Canadian Medical doctors for Medicare.
Quebec, Canada’s second-most populous province, is battling surging COVID-19 hospitalizations, and Legault famous that the province’s comparatively small unvaccinated inhabitants was represented disproportionately among the many hospitalized.
Going through a provincial election in October, his authorities’s response to the pandemic up to now has met with approval from 65% of Quebeckers surveyed, in keeping with a Leger ballot launched this week.
However the province’s public well being director stepped down earlier this week, previous to the tax plan announcement, citing an “erosion” of public belief in anti-pandemic measures.
Requested on Wednesday in regards to the plan, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated he “obtained that proposal with curiosity” however wouldn’t weigh in on it, saying he wanted extra particulars.
Canada’s public well being system is underpinned by the Canada Well being Act, meant to ensure universality and accessibility, amongst different issues. It precludes consumer charges for insured companies.
Quebec’s tax could possibly be framed as a “sin tax” just like that positioned on alcohol and cigarettes or as a tax on a well being danger issue like non-public insurers cost, Raza stated.
As such, it won’t violate Canada’s Well being Act however that didn’t imply it was a good suggestion, he stated.
Cara Zwibel, appearing basic counsel for the Canadian Civil Liberties Affiliation, stated it’d nonetheless violate Canada’s Constitution of Rights and Freedoms if seen as “a means of compelling individuals to get vaccinated”.
It was not clear if the tax’s aim is to persuade extra individuals to get vaccinated or to finance well being care, she stated.
McGill College biomedical ethicist Phoebe Friesen was involved the logic of taxing unvaccinated individuals could possibly be extrapolated to different behaviors seen as driving well being spending – weight problems, for instance – however which are tied to marginalization.
“If you wish to be constant and logical, it is best to cost all kinds of individuals for his or her hospitalization if it’s primarily based on conduct that they’re ‘accountable’ for,” she stated “… And it’s extremely difficult to determine what that appears like.”
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