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Canadian Civil Liberties Association calls for scrapping of vaccine tax

Published:Saturday | January 15, 2022 | 12:06 AMLester Hinds/Gleaner Writer

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) has called on the Quebec government to rescind imposing a tax on unvaccinated Canadians.

In a statement, the CCLA Director of Fundamental Freedoms and acting General Counsel Cara Zwibel said that the measure may end up hurting those who need public health support and services the most.

“Premier Legault is taking the unprecedented step of taxing Quebecers based on their personal medical choices. He is proposing a direct penalty for being unvaccinated – compelling individuals to undergo medical treatment,” the statement said.

Zwibel also said in the statement that Quebec’s proposal raises significant equity concerns.

“We have universal, public health care in Canada. We do not fine individuals who make poor diet and exercise choices, those who choose higher-risk occupations or recreational activities. Some essential services – like basic health care for those who are ill – transcend such individual choices,” the statement further said.

The acting general counsel said the proposal is a divisive measure that will end up punishing and alienating those who may be most in need of public health support and services.

“We know that some of those who remain unvaccinated are individuals who face serious barriers to accessing health care, and many have a low level of trust in the system because of negative experiences in the past. The government should abandon this divisive and constitutionally vulnerable proposal,” said Zwibel.

He noted that, “the CCLA Charter recognises individual autonomy over our bodies and medical decisions. Allowing the government to levy fines on those who do not agree with the government’s recommended medical treatment is a deeply troubling proposition. To justify this kind of restriction on constitutionally protected rights, the government must provide clear and compelling evidence and demonstrate that there were no other reasonable alternatives.”