Quebec residents who refuse to receive a COVID-19 vaccination will be forced to pay a “significant” financial penalty, Premier Francois Legault said on Tuesday.
The fee would be the first of its kind in Canada and would apply to adult residents lacking a medical exemption.
Legault said about 10% of adults in Quebec are unvaccinated, but they represent about 50% of intensive care patients.
“Those who refuse to get their first doses in the coming weeks will have to pay a new health contribution,” Legault said, according to the Associated Press.
“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,” he added.
The amount of the fee has not yet been announced.
The new information is in addition to other strong coronavirus restrictions in the province. In December, Legault launched a strict curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. in response to the increasing coronavirus cases.
The Canadian Press reported the move is one of several new restrictions in Quebec:
Last week, Quebec announced it would expand the vaccine passport system by requiring proof of vaccination to enter liquor and cannabis stores. Health Minister Christian Dubé has said he was mulling extending the passport further, to shopping malls and personal care salons.
Legault said Tuesday the passport expansion remained on the table: “Yes, we will continue to look at spreading the use of the vaccine passport, but I think we have to go further.”
Though the fee would be the first in North America, the practice follows moves in some European nations to fine the unvaccinated.
Austria’s health minister announced in December that the government will dish out fines of up to 3,600 euros ($4,000) on people who refuse the nation’s vaccine mandate for residents 14 years old or older.
In Greece, residents more than 60 years old will be fined 100 euros ($113) for every month they remain unvaccinated, according to the AP.
Quebec also recently drew attention on New Year’s Eve when a gathering of just six people in Gatineau, Canada, led a neighbor to notify police, who arrived just before midnight to confront the residents. The incident led to a brawl and two arrests that went viral online. The Daily Wire reported:
“Quebec is currently in lockdown, meaning visitors from another address are not permitted inside people’s homes at the moment,” CBC noted. Gatineau is the fourth-largest city in the province after Montreal, Quebec City, and Laval.
Differing versions of what transpired were offered by the police and the residents; Lieutenant Éric Simard stated, “The recommended approach was preventive. The agents asked for their collaboration to put an end to the gathering, but they were rejected,” as the Journal of Montreal reported. Simard added that the police intended simply to warn the residents but ultimately gave out statements of offense, which can reportedly amount to $1,546 per person.
Gatineau police spokesperson Renee Anne St. Amant told Radio-Canada that the owner of the house would not identify herself and was uncooperative, stating, “At this point, the situation just got worse.”
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