OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole says while he respects provincial jurisdiction, he opposes Quebec's plan "to tax and target" those who are unvaccinated against COVID-19.
The Tory leader made his position known on Premier François Legault's proposal during a Facebook Live today.
Earlier in the week Legault announced adults living the province who are unvaccinated and don't have a medical exemption could expect to start paying a "significant” financial penalty.
The premier said the measure was needed because around half of the patients in intensive care are unvaccinated even those only about 10 per cent of adult Quebecers are not immunized against COVID-19.
O'Toole, who opposes vaccine mandates, says the proposal is unfair and doesn't think it's a good solution to encourage those hesitant to get a shot to roll up their sleeves.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the day before that he needed more details about Quebec's plan before he could say whether he supports it.
Trudeau says the province has signalled it will follow the Canada Health Act, which governs the country's universally funded health-care system that provinces deliver.
O'Toole on the other hand says Quebec's proposal doesn't align with Canada's approach to health care and that it's easy to divide people when they feel afraid.
"Vaccinated people get frustrated with what they perceive as a small group of people holding back the country," O'Toole said.
He says it's Trudeau's failure to provide Canadians better access to rapid antigen tests and personal protective equipment that has caused provinces to return their highly vaccinated populations to living under restrictive health measures.
Trudeau, for his part, has criticized O'Toole for saying those who remain unvaccinated should be allowed to take rapid tests, rather than lose their jobs or be put on leave, under mandatory vaccination policies.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 13, 2021
Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press