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Quebec ditches proposed COVID-19 vaccine tax

Quebec ditches proposed COVID-19 vaccine tax
Prime Minister of Quebec Francois Legault announced plans to drop a proposed tax on unvaccinated residents. File Photo by Ian Langsdon/EPA-EFE

Feb. 1 (UPI) -- Quebec Premier Francois Legault dropped plans to tax unvaccinated residents Tuesday amid backlash over the effort to increase protection against COVID-19 in the Canadian province.

He announced the move during a news conference updating the public on the status of the pandemic.

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"I have to make sure that I protect the health of Quebecers, but I have also to protect the peace in our society," Legault said.

"In the last week or so there's an increase in the reaction of people. They are angry more than ever. I don't like to see Quebecers divided like we're seeing."

The proposed $50 to $100 fine on unvaccinated individuals was announced last month in an effort to push residents to get their first COVID-19 vaccine. The tax was not expected to apply to those with a medical exemption.

Quebec Health Minister Christian Dube said the province saw an increase in vaccination after announcing the proposed tax. So far, nearly 90% of residents have received at least their first dose of the vaccine.

Still, Quebec has recorded the most deaths of all Canadian provinces -- more than 13,000.

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