As infections fueled by the Omicron variant threaten to overwhelm Canada’s health care system, the Quebec government on Tuesday took unprecedented action by promising to tax adult residents who refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Premier François Legault made the announcement as the province reported another daily record of virus-related hospitalizations. Of the 2,742 hospital patients in Quebec with COVID-19, 255 of them were in intensive care.
The prime minister said the unvaccinated should be forced to pay for the burden they place on the health system, noting that half of people in intensive care are not vaccinated – even though this group comprises 10% of the adult population. The tax would not apply to people benefiting from a medical exemption.
Meanwhile, Ontario reported 3,220 hospitalizations on Tuesday, with 477 intensive care patients, including 250 on ventilators. The Ontario Hospital Association confirmed that 80 adults had been admitted to hospital the day before – the highest number of admissions to date during the pandemic.
The accelerated spread of Omicron has resulted in staff shortages across Canada, affecting hospitals, long-term care facilities and other essential services. As a result, elective surgeries in Ontario have also been suspended, affecting up to 10,000 scheduled procedures each week.
Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott has announced that to address staff shortages, internationally trained nurses will be allowed to work in hospitals, long-term care homes and other facilities Ontario Health Center.
After Ontario Premier Doug Ford confirmed Monday evening that students would return to class on January 17, Elliott was repeatedly asked to explain which health indicators had changed since last week to allow for the recovery. in-person learning.
“We have done everything possible to make our schools safe for our students,” she told a press conference, adding that all students would receive three-ply masks.
“We are taking all possible measures to make sure our schools are safe for our children…. We needed a little more time to put these provisions in place.
Karen Brown, president of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, said while many teachers want to resume in-person learning, some are concerned about inadequate security measures.
“What they have announced so far is not enough,” said Brown. “We are almost two years into this pandemic. Why do we always ask these things? “
In Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged that provinces will have enough COVID-19 vaccines to provide eligible people with a fourth dose, should it become necessary. Trudeau made the pledge in a statement Monday night after speaking with provincial and territorial leaders, saying Ottawa will do everything possible to help them deal with the fifth wave of the pandemic.
“(Premiers) have expressed concern over the pressure on health systems, businesses, workers and families across the country,” the statement said.
In New Brunswick, doctors were treating a record 88 people hospitalized with COVID-19, including 14 in intensive care. Mathieu Chalifoux, the province’s chief epidemiologist, said hospitalizations could jump to 200 if current trends continue.
“We are at the start of a very high tidal wave,” said John Dornan, interim president of the province’s Horizon Health Network. “It’s skyrocketing now, but in the next two or three weeks it’s going to crush us like nobody’s business. “