Although the precise details have yet to be announced, Premier Francois Legault told the public on Tuesday that his government intends to charge unvaccinated adults in the province a “significant” fee to help offset the burden that they are placing on the healthcare network.
“We have not yet set the amount,” the Premier said, adding that the government is also still in the process of sorting out the legality of the decision.
Legault compared the fee to the way that people who do not have prescription drug insurance through their jobs need to get it through the government, but he also described it as a natural consequence for those individuals who have chosen to not get vaccinated given that these same individuals represent a significantly higher proportion of the people hospitalized in the province.
The premier also reiterated the point made last week that staffing shortages represent the biggest challenge for the province at this point in time. He specified that about 1,000 additional healthcare workers are needed in the hospital system and another 1,500 in Quebec’s long-term care homes.
Legault made these announcements in the company of Dr. Luc Boileau, Quebec’s new interim provincial director of public health.
This was Boileau’s first public appearance in his new role following the resignation of the previous director, Dr. Horacio Arruda, on Monday evening.
In his resignation letter, Arruda cited recent questions around his credibility as the cause of “erosion” in the population’s willingness to follow public health guidelines.
“In this context, I consider it appropriate to offer you the chance to replace me before the end of my current term as the (Provincial Director of Public Health),” he wrote.
Legault and a number of other political figures in the province expressed appreciation for the work done by Arruda over his time as director, but opposition parties suggested that he is acting as something of a scapegoat for the Legault government’s decisions.
Prior to taking on the interim role, Boileau was the President of the province’s institute for healthcare excellence (INESS).
The number of hospitalizations related to COVID-19 in the province increased to 2,742 on Tuesday, about half of which were so-called ‘secondary hospitalizations,’ where the virus is present but not the condition of main concern. Of that total, 255 people were in intensive care, an increase of seven after 45 people were admitted to ICUs while only 38 were discharged.
The Province also recorded 62 new deaths, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic up above 12,000 to 12,028.
There were 100,448 known active cases across Quebec as of Tuesday, with the limited number of tests being conducted turning up a roughly 20 percent positivity rate.
There were 160 hospitalized with COVID-19 in the Eastern Townships on Tuesday, with 23 in intensive care.