Quebec is not alone in targeting the unvaccinated. But is it moral? –

Taxes and fines cross a red line and lead us down a path that one ethicist warns will “cause tremendous harm to our society.”

“I think it’s reasonable that most of those who are vaccinated feel some emotion of resentment or moral disapproval toward the unvaccinated,” says Arthur Schafer, professor of bioethics at the University of Manitoba.

Those are strong words for an ethicist and a measure, surely, of how far we have come in this pandemic: Hospitalizations of so many unvaccinated spell pain for others, including undergo medical procedures such as cancer or canceled or postponed heart surgeries. Around 500,000 surgeries were delayed in the first 15 months of the pandemic in Canada alone, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

Now that hospitals around the world are once again overwhelmed with patients, many of whom are unvaccinated, governments here and abroad they are tightening the rules for those who remain unvaccinated.

French President Emmanuel Macron recently proposed new measures against the unvaccinated, including restricting their ability to travel by public means and prohibit them access to common places such as restaurants, theaters and arenas. “When some make their freedom… a slogan, they are not only putting the lives of others at risk, but they are also restricting the freedom of others,” Macron said. “I can’t accept that.” And in Quebec, the unvaccinated are now barred from liquor and cannabis stores.

The question is when those restrictions cross ethical lines and even backfire.

For bioethicists, who have dealt with a constant stream of moral dilemmas during this pandemic, there is a big difference between the rules that restrict access to non-essential places and the imposition of taxes. “I think the vaccination mandates — restrictions on who has access to restaurants, gyms, concerts, sporting events, liquor stores, bingo halls — are all justifiable,” says Schafer. They protect the health system, those who work in those places and other clients, he says.

Kerry Bowman, a professor of bioethics at the University of Toronto, agrees that such restrictions are fine in principle during a pandemic, though she would like to see consistent working definitions of what is and is not governed by such rules. (like buying alcohol, which now requires proof of vaccinations in Quebec but not in Ontario).

More controversial is a new trend of governments imposing a tax, fee or levy on those who are not vaccinated by choice (as opposed to those who have very real and rare medical reasons why they cannot be vaccinated and are exempt from such taxes) . . This week, Quebec Premier François Legault said his government was considering such a plan, although the exact mechanism and amount are unclear.

As of now, at least three countries have either tohave announced or are implementing plans to essentially tax the voluntarily unvaccinated.

  • Singapore: As of December 8, those who are not vaccinated by choice were required to pay their own hospital bills. The government estimates that those people could be charged an average price of US$25,000 if they end up in the ICU, informs the tight times.
  • Austria: the country is make vaccines Mandatory for residents for one year starting in February. Those who break the law can be fined up to 3,600 euros every three months.
  • Greece: It is mandatory vaccination program for those over 60 years of age comes into force this month, and carries a monthly fine of 100 euros for those who do not get vaccinated.

However, for many experts, such government decisions cross a bioethical red line. “In Canada, people can make any kind of medical decision they choose, as long as they’re informed,” says U of T’s Bowman. “The line we’re crossing is, ‘We don’t like the decisions you’re making.'” For him, such tariffs are essentially punitive, since they pressure people to do something that restricts basic human autonomy: “It is an ethical horror. show that will do tremendous harm to our society.”

“Good ethics must be based on good science,” Bowman continues, noting that Quebecers who receive the first dose today will not be fully vaccinated for another six to nine months, depending on the time intervals for receiving three doses. By then, the dangers of Omicron will probably have passed.

Schaffer’s Notes that many of those who have not been vaccinated are probably members of marginalized communities, who have historical reasons for distrusting the health system. “I think that making it a crime punishable by a special tax or a fine, or whatever it is disguised, will be counterproductive,” he says. “Many will see it as unfair.”

Both Schafer and Bowman are alarmed by any consideration that those who are not vaccinated should not receive the same medical care as those who are. “We dole out health care based on need and refuse to make doctors and hospitals moral judges,” says Schafer. What’s next, experts ask, when it comes to making such decisions: “Did you have a glass of wine with dinner last night? Do you really need those 10 extra kilos? Bowman asks. “There is no fund for this.

“The thought of us and them brings out the worst in humanity. It’s not something you want see.”

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