The Quebec government is facing widespread condemnation over a plan to fine the unvaccinated a “significant” amount.
The government says this form of health tax would help pay the medical expenses of the unvaccinated disproportionately filling the province’s hospitals with COVID-19 infections.
Quebec Premier Francois Legault said this would apply to adults who don’t have a medical exemption and comes as cases of the virus are starting to plateau.
He said a financial penalty is needed because about half of the patients in intensive care are unvaccinated, even though only 10% of adult Quebecers are not immunized
The controversial plan is to be enacted next month as provincial leaders express concern about a health-care crisis caused by the rapid spread of the more transmissible omicron variant.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he needed more details to comment how this might work with Canada’s universally funded health-care system.
Some members of Legault’s government call the plan discriminatory, unethical and punishing to low-income earners.
Truck driver vaccinations
There are concerns of looming shortages of goods as truck drivers crossing the border from the U.S. must be fully vaccinated as Saturday.
Truckers are no longer granted an exemption that previously allowed all essential workers to travel back and forth freely.
The new rule is expected to further impact supply chain challenges as it affects about 16,000 drivers, said Stephen Laskowski, president of the Ontario Trucking Association.
The industry moves about 80% of the annual $648 billion in Canada-U.S. trade.
Canadian truck drivers not fully vaccinated need to meet requirements for entry, testing and quarantine requirements.
Others not fully vaccinated are being sent back to the U.S.
News in brief
• Keurig Canada has been fined $3 million for misleading claims over coffee pod recycling. The Competition Bureau said the company made false or misleading claims that its single-use K-Cup pods can be recycled. The cups aren’t widely accepted for recycling in any province except Quebec and British Columbia. The company will also make an $800,000 donation to an environmental charity and $85,000 for the bureau’s expenses.
• Canada’s central bank is expected to raise its key interest rate as early as the second half of this year with better-than-expected growth for the economy. The rate has been stalled at 0.25% since May 2010. Growth in the economy has been accompanied by higher inflation, significant housing market activity and rising prices.
Facts and figures:
• Canada’s dollar is higher at 80 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.26 in Canadian funds, before exchange fees.
• The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is unchanged at 0.25% while the prime lending rate is 2.45%.
• Canadian stock markets are mixed with the Toronto index up at 21,228 on Friday while the TSX Venture index was lower at 897 points.
• The average price for gas in Canada is higher at $1.44 a liter (Canadian) or $5.47 for a U.S. gallon.
• Lotto Max: (Jan. 11) 1, 3, 24, 25, 27, 36 and 47; bonus 12. (Jan. 7) 4, 5, 31, 39, 42, 45 and 50; bonus 11.
• Lotto 6/49: (Jan. 12) 8, 21, 26, 29, 31 and 46; bonus 14. (Jan. 8) 6, 18, 23, 31, 46 and 48; bonus 4.
• They’re calling it the “rain-mageddon” as British Columbia agencies warn of more flooding. Environment Canada said the province is in for some more wild weather after earlier devastating flooding and mud slides. The latest warning is for the B.C. coast and Fraser Valley with heavy rain, snow at higher elevations and strong winds. Rain, combined with melting snow, could cause rivers to flood, it warns.
• What do you do when life gives you thousands of lemons? Laura Mulrooney, who owns a bakery in Chester, Nova Scotia, knows after receiving 2,000 surplus lemons from a grocery store’s ordering error. She has since swamped the province with lemons and made dozens of squares, lemon loaf, curd, lemon water, lemonade, and gin and tonic.