Quebec, Canada’s second most populous province, will impose a tax on unvaccinated residents to help offset the financial strain they place on the healthcare system.

The “health contribution” was announced Tuesday by Premier Francois Legault. He said details are still being worked out but the levy would be no less than C$100 ($79.50). People who receive medical exemptions would be spared the additional burden.

“Right now, [the willfully unvaccinated], they put a very important burden on our health care network. And I think it’s normal the majority of the population is asking that there be a consequence,” Legault explained.  

“I know the situation is tough, but we can get through this together,” he added.  

Reuters reports:

Quebec has been one of the worst-hit [areas in Canada], regularly recording the highest daily count of coronavirus cases of all provinces and having several thousand healthcare workers off their jobs.

“The vaccine is the key to fight the virus. This is why we’re looking for a health contribution for adults who refuse to be vaccinated for non-medical reasons,” Legault said.

Legault said that even though the province has about 10% unvaccinated people, they account for about 50% of those in intensive care units.

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

CBS News adds:

The tax is just the latest measure put in place to try to curb the spread of the virus in Quebec. The province has also mandated remote work for any position that will allow it, canceled sports and extracurricular activities in schools, closed secondary schools, limited store and restaurant capacities, and limited private gatherings, among other things. There is also a curfew in place from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. 

First-dose vaccinations ticked up in Quebec last week as the province introduced an inoculation requirement to enter liquor and cannabis stores.