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Jordan Peterson slams Quebec plan to tax unvaccinated Canadians

The Canadian province of Quebec has announced it will impose a health tax on residents who are not vaccinated against Covid-19. The move is set to make Quebec the first region in the nation to financially penalise unvaccinated citizens, despite the fact that almost 90 per cent of its residents are vaccinated. Since the news broke this week, there has been an outpouring of criticism, with many people expressing shock and anger.

Canadian professor of psychology, clinical psychologist, and YouTube personality and popular author, Dr Jordan Peterson, blasted the move, writing on Twitter: “You appalling and heedless authoritarians. For shame.”

According to federal data, just over 85% of Quebec residents had received at least one vaccine dose by 1 January. Data also shows that only 12.8 per cent of Quebec residents are unvaccinated.

During a news conference, Premier Francois Legault said that people who have not received their first dose of vaccine will have to pay a “contribution”. The fee will be “significant,” although it has not yet been decided, Mr Legault said. 

“I think right now it’s a question of fairness for the 90% of the population who made some sacrifices,” he said. “I think we owe them this kind of measure.”

The tough crackdown on the unvaccinated comes one week after the province announced that it would require proof of vaccination to shop in government cannabis and liquor stores.

A curfew has also been imposed, the second one of the pandemic, running from 22:00 to 05:00 each day. Data shows that deaths from Covid in Quebec remain at a similar number even after the introduction of widespread vaccinations.

The premier’s press conference was attended by his interim public health director, who took over after the long-serving previous director resigned after facing mounting criticism of his handling of the new cases of the Omicron variant.

Online, many were enraged by the decision to financially punish the unvaccinated, arguing that it was a dangerous path to go down, and was a huge barrier to freedom of choice and personal autonomy.

One user, among others, said they were “close to becoming anti vaccine” after witnessing the actions taken by provinces including Quebec. 

“Not getting my booster shot.. it’s gone too far now,” the user added.

Other vaccinated people stated that the ‘authoritarian’ actions of those in power were fuelling a new-found motivation to decline a booster jab.

One person testified of their own experience to argue that Quebec hospitals were “overrun, underfunded and understaffed long before COVID,” which would back up the argument that the unvaccinated are not the real reason the country’s health service is under pressure. Many have made the same point here in Ireland, arguing that those who have not taken the vaccine for a range of reasons are being unfairly scapegoated.

While rare, Quebec is not the only place internationally which has moved to place harsh and controversial financial penalties on those who don’t want to take a Covid-19 vaccine.

As reported by Gript, Greece hit the headlines when it announced it was going to start fining those over 60 who are unjabbed. Starting later this month, Greeks over 60 are being required to pay a €100 (£85; C$142; $113) fine for each month that they remain unvaccinated. The fine on the elderly was described as ‘draconian’ by some online, with others writing that the news was ‘frightening’,

“This draconian approach – and we can see many examples now – is counterproductive. Education and engagement required over coercion,” one person said on Twitter when the news was announced at the end of November.

Singapore has gone down a similar route, and now requires Covid patients to pay for their own medical bills if they are not vaccinated. It comes as UK retail giant Next joined Ikea in cutting sick pay for unvaccinated workers; a decision which has also sparked backlash. Supermarket Morrisons has announced similar changes specifically targeting the unvaccinated, a decision which critics say it deeply discriminatory.

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