Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declined to comment on Quebec’s proposed tax for people who refuse to get vaccinated against COVID-19, saying he needs more information to gauge whether it will be effective.
Federal parties across the political spectrum were careful to avoid any direct comments on the policy which Quebec announced on Tuesday with little information and amid the fallout of the resignation of the province’s top doctor.
The Bloc Québécois said they wouldn’t comment on something that is within provincial jurisdiction. The NDP said they hadn’t yet reviewed the policy with their full caucus and the Conservatives did not respond to a request for comment. Mr. Trudeau told reporters at a news conference Wednesday in Ottawa that he also needed more time but that the goal of any such policy should be to incent vaccinations and be in line with the values laid out by the Canada Health Act.
“The details are important. We need to know exactly the measures being put in place, and there’s work to be done on that,” Mr. Trudeau said.
“It’s not about avoiding answering your question. It’s to say that, really, we need to understand how this proposal from Quebec will work, so that we can be assured that it will be effective, that it’s doing the right thing and that it’s in line with our values.”
On Tuesday, Quebec Premier François Legault said people who refuse COVID-19 vaccination and don’t have a valid medical exemption will face a “significant” fee. He wouldn’t disclose the precise cost but suggested it would be more than $100. The province is so early in its development of the policy that Mr. Legault said his government was still studying the legality of the tax.
Provincial Health Minister Christian Dubé on Wednesday suggested that the announcement had already pushed more people to get their shots.
In a post on Twitter, he said 7,000 people had booked first shot appointments on Tuesday, which he said was a high from the past few days. He said 5,000 people had booked first dose appointments on Monday.
With a report from Bill Curry in Ottawa.
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