Canada’s Quebec province announced Tuesday it was scrapping plans for a health tax on those who are not vaccinated against Covid-19, following a public backlash over the proposal.
Francois Legault, the premier of the French-speaking province, told a news conference the controversial measure has deeply divided Quebecers.
“To move Quebec forward in a calm social climate, I am announcing that the government will not introduce this bill on the health contribution,” he said.
The idea for the tax had been unveiled on January 11, and was intended to incentivize 10 percent of the local population who have not received a Covid jab to get vaccinated.
Legault had lamented that half of all Covid patients in hospital intensive care wards in the province were unvaccinated and that it was straining health care resources.
The announcement Monday marked the second time the Quebec government has walked back public health measures meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
It also nixed compulsory inoculations for all health care workers last year fearing it would lead to thousands of nurses quitting their jobs, worsening an already severe worker shortage in the sector.
Quebec also announced Tuesday an easing of public health restrictions on sports and cultural activities starting mid-February, after joining on Monday neighboring Ontario province’s reopening of restaurants for indoor dining — with capacity limits.