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Quebec’s The proposal to tax unvaccinated people may be legal, but it could also go against the spirit of Canada’s universal public health system, law and medical experts say.

Prime Minister François Legault announced the new “contribution” for unvaccinated people on Tuesday, although his government declined to say how the tax would be levied, when or against whom.

Canada’s Civil Liberties Association said it could violate Canadians’ fundamental rights, while health advocates expressed concern about its wider implications.

Danyaal Raza, a physician at Unity Health in Toronto and past president of Canadian Doctors for Medicare, told Reuters:

I have never seen anything like this in Canada. I’m concerned about the precedent it would set.”

A man walks down Ste-Catherine Street in Montreal on January 2. Photo: Canadian Press/REX/Shutterstock

dr. Yv Bonnier-Viger, public health director for the Gaspé region, asked Quebec to “think seriously” about the implications of such a measure, saying “these are not measures that correspond to public health values” in an interview with Montreal’s CTV news.

I think we would completely forget about our system of coverage and universal health insurance. We know that about 40 percent of diseases are preventable. If we start taxing all sick people for the bad decisions they have made at some point in their lives, we will go off the rails.”

However, Cara Zwibel, acting general counsel to the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, said it could violate Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms if seen as “a way of forcing people to get vaccinated”.

McGill University biomedical ethicist Phoebe Friesen was also concerned that the logic of taxing unvaccinated people could be extrapolated to other behaviors seen as a driver of health spending, such as obesity, but linked to marginalization.

If you want to be consistent and logical, you’d have to make all kinds of people pay for their hospitalization if it’s based on behaviors that they’re ‘responsible’ for,” she said “…And it’s incredibly hard to figure out what that looks like.” Like it.”

Quebec, Canada’s second most populous province, is struggling with the surging number of Covid hospitals. The county’s public health director resigned earlier this week over an “erosion” in public confidence in anti-pandemic measures.

Guardian reader and Montreal resident Chris Batory said the fact that more than 7,000 people lined up to get their first vaccination in Quebec on Wednesday shows the strategy worked, “at least for one day!” he added.

“Our highest in days,” tweeted Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé, noting that 5,000 appointments were also made on Monday. “This is encouraging.”