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Ontario not considering tax for unvaccinated individuals, top doctor says

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Ontario’s top doctor says the province will not introduce a tax for individuals who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 a day after Quebec introduced a similar measure in an effort to monetarily support its health-care system.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore made the comment during a news conference about the return to in-person learning in Ontario schools next week.

He said that such a recommendation has not been made to government throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and that the public health measure is not one he and his team would bring forward for consideration.

“It does, in my mind, seem punitive,” Dr. Moore said. “Only in the highest-risk settings have we mandated it, and that was in the long-term care facilities where all of us have realized the increased death rate, the increased risk of severe outcomes [of COVID-19] had to be balanced by maximizing immunization and protection of those individuals.”

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“That is as far as this government has gone in terms of mandating vaccination and putting a penalty on those who have not been vaccinated has not been entertained by this government,” Moore said.

Premier Doug Ford doubled down on Dr. Moore’s comments during a tour of a vaccination clinic in Toronto on Wednesday afternoon and said Ontario is taking a “different approach” to drive up vaccination rates.

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“We aren’t going down that road,” Ford said after being asked about Quebec’s tax for the unvaccinated. “I implore, I ask, I beg, every single person that’s not vaccinated, please, protect yourself, protect your family, protect coworkers, please get your vaccination, that’s the best way we can defend against Omicron or any of the variants.”

On Tuesday, Quebec Premier François Legault announced the new measure, which he described as a “health-care contribution,” for people who refuse to get vaccinated against COVID-19 for non-medical reasons.

The Quebec government is currently consulting with the finance minister and its legal advisers about implementing the measure, but Legault has said that a $50 or $100 tax “is not significant” enough for him.

Meanwhile, health officials in British Columbia said Tuesday that its provincial government has no plans to demand payment from the unvaccinated.

Last week, federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos suggested that provinces and territories should consider mandating vaccinations as he said the nation’s health-care system is stretched “too thin” amid an Omicron-fuelled wave of COVID-19 infections.

As of Tuesday, 91.2 per cent of Ontarians over the age of 12 have one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 88.5 per cent have two doses and are considered by the government to be fully vaccinated.

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With files from CTV News Montreal’s Joe Lofaro

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