PM needs more information on vax-free tax in Quebec, Ottawa struggles to provide rapid tests – Castlegar News

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday he needed more information before he could say whether he supported Quebec’s anti-vaccination tax, as Ottawa struggled to keep its promise to provide rapid tests COVID-19.

Trudeau said Quebec reassured the federal government that its plan to tax adult residents who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 will not violate the principles of the Canada Health Act, which governs universal health systems managed by the provinces of the country.

“Details matter. We need to know exactly what measures they are proposing. We need to know the terms and conditions in order to know if this will be effective, ”Trudeau said.

“We’ll look at the details to see exactly how it plays out. “

The federal government has tried to encourage people to get vaccinated with travel restrictions and certain vaccination warrants, Trudeau said, but the tax proposed by Quebec is unprecedented and would require further study.

Quebec Premier François Legault announced on Tuesday that he planned to charge the unvaccinated a “significant” financial penalty, but few details were provided.

Legault said people who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 occupy a disproportionate number of hospital beds and should be required to pay an additional contribution to the health system.

Quebec reported 52 more COVID-19-related deaths and an increase of 135 hospitalizations on Wednesday. There were 2,877 people hospitalized with the infection, including 263 in intensive care.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney was quick to denounce Quebec’s proposal to tax the unvaccinated.

He said Alberta would not consider such a tax, adding that it would amount to charging a smoker more for lung cancer treatment.

Kenney said data shows unvaccinated people turn out to be a much greater burden on the hospital system, but charging them extra wouldn’t be fair.

“If we take this path, we are completely flouting the entire principle of the universality of health care, which is why Alberta will absolutely not follow Quebec’s decision,” Kenney said Tuesday evening at a town hall. on Facebook.

“No matter where you come from, your age, your state of health, your wealth or the lifestyle choices you have made, you are guaranteed to have free access to our health care system. for medically necessary services.

Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said on Wednesday that access to PCR tests in the provinces is in crisis.

Rapid home tests are an important tool in tackling the rapidly spreading Omicron variant, he said.

The federal government had promised to deliver 140 million rapid tests to the provinces by the end of the month. But some have reported that shipments of these tests have been slow to arrive.

In Ontario, less than 0.3 percent of the tests promised to the province in January have been delivered.

The Ontario government has announced that students and staff in schools and daycares will each take two rapid tests after resuming in-person learning on Monday.

The tests are to be distributed from next week, first to staff, then to children in day care centers and to students in public primary schools, followed by secondary students.

People with symptoms should use two tests 24 to 48 hours apart and may return to school with negative results once their symptoms improve. Ontario school boards can alternate between face-to-face and remote days or combine classes as needed to minimize school closures due to staff absences related to COVID.

“It’s going to be a layer of protection that we didn’t have,” said Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce. “It will help parents feel more confident that they have the virus.”

In Saskatchewan, health orders that were due to expire at the end of the month have been extended until the end of February. They include mandatory masking in all indoor public spaces, mandatory self-isolation for a positive COVID-19 test, and proof of vaccination or a negative test to enter certain places and businesses.

Prime Minister Scott Moe stopped short of introducing measures regarding the size of gatherings. He said the lockdown policies violate rights and freedoms.

Officials in the Northwest Territories, which reached a record 1,072 active cases, said they would not order a lockdown in communities with outbreaks as happened in previous waves.

In Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia’s Chief Medical Officer of Health has warned that the continued spread of the Omicron variant has created the most serious pandemic challenge for the province’s health system.

Dr Robert Strang said 500-700 healthcare workers have been off work in recent days due to COVID-19.

Also on Wednesday, the federal government announced that businesses will have more time to repay Canada Emergency Account loans for businesses.

Businesses and nonprofits struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic will have until the end of 2023 to repay interest-free loans of up to $ 60,000.

When the government first created the program at the start of the pandemic, it set a repayment deadline of December 31, 2022, for anyone who wanted to take advantage of zero interest and have part of the loan canceled.

British Columbia has announced that businesses ordered to close due to public health restrictions can now apply for provincial aid grants of up to $ 10,000. Bars, nightclubs and lounges that do not serve full meals, as well as gyms, fitness centers and event venues, were among those ordered to temporarily close on December 22, with a reopening date set for next Tuesday.

—Daniela Germano, The Canadian Press


Leave a Comment