Alberta not considering non-compliance vaccine tax like Quebec: Premier's office
After Quebec announced it would soon charge unvaccinated individuals with a financial penalty, Alberta has no plans to do the same.
In a statement from the premier’s office, press secretary Justin Brattinga wrote, “Alberta has not considered and is not considering bringing in any kind of non-compliance vaccine tax.”
Quebec Premier François Legault announced Tuesday his province will charge a fee to residents who refuse to get vaccinated against COVID-19 for non-medical reasons.
In a Facebook Live townhall Tuesday night, Premier Jason Kenney said imposing a tax on those who choose not to get vaccinated is a violation of Canadian principles.
"We have a universal health-care system which means that it doesn’t matter where you come from. How old you are, what your medical condition is, how wealthy you are or what life choices you make, you are guaranteed access to our health-care system free of cost for medically necessary services," he said.
"Alberta will not follow the decision of Quebec that was announced."
Kenney said that although he respects Quebec Premier Francois Legault, he fundamentally disagrees with this approach.
"If we start going down that road then why would we not have a tax on people who are overweight or who smoke," asked Kenney. ""You can say the tax on tobacco is maybe, kind of indirectly that, ok perhaps, but we don’t tell a smoker when they show up for lung cancer treatment that they’re going to have to pay extra for their treatment."
Kenney also took the time to once again urge the public to get vaccinated, pointing to the current rate of hospitalizations per 100,000
"The choices made by unvaccinated people which are leading to higher levels of hospitalizations also affect everyone else, well everyone waiting for health care, by causing widespread delays of surgeries."
But one legal expert advises taking Kenney’s stance with a grain of salt.
“Many provinces have said look, we’re never going to do that here, including in Alberta but they said that about passports, they said that about mandates and a lot of it can be semantics,” said Timothy Caulfield, a professor of health law and science policy at the University of Alberta.
The exact amount has not yet been determined. The province is consulting with the minister of finance and legal advisers about implementing the measure, but Legault has already said $50 or $100 "is not significant" enough for him.
The tax would apply to all adults in Quebec who refuse to get their first dose of the vaccine "in the next few weeks," according to Legault. People who have medical exemptions to vaccination will not have to pay the tax.
“They can’t, for example, extra bill unvaccinated individuals,” said Caulfield.
“Perhaps legally they can use almost a penalty that will show up on their provincial tax form and I think that is direction that they are going.”
There is no timeframe for when the Quebec penalty comes into effect.
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