Quebec Premier François Legault announced Tuesday the province would abandon plans to impose a tax on unvaccinated residents, citing unfavorable public opinion.
“I understand that this divides Quebecers and right now we have to build bridges,” Legault told reporters at a Tuesday press conference, according to CBC News. “My role is to try to bring Quebecers together to stay united as a people.”
Legault had announced plans in early January to tax residents who had not yet taken the COVID-19 vaccine, citing a “burden” they were placing on the province’s health networks.
“Those who refuse to receive their first dose in the coming weeks will have to pay a new health contribution,” Legault said at the time. “I know the situation is tough, but we can get through this together. We need to focus our efforts on two things: Getting the first, second, and third doses of vaccine and reducing our contacts, especially with older people.”
Legault announced Tuesday that the government would abandon the planned tax in favor of alternative measures such as door-to-door service for at-home vaccinations, citing “growing discontent” among the public and the need for “social cohesion,” according to CBC News.
Legault will also begin easing COVID-19 restrictions in the province, CBC News reported. Quebec’s Health Ministry had imposed rules last week requiring “anyone without a vaccination passport must be accompanied at all times by a store employee and cannot purchase products other than those related to the pharmaceutical service they are receiving.”
The announcement follows protests led by truckers across Canada against the nation’s COVID-19 restrictions and vaccine mandates.