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BC officials say no tax for unvaccinated, will assess if some restrictions may be lifted

BC health officials have said there will not be a province-wide “healthcare contribution” against unvaccinated people, similar to what Quebec has announced.

Quebec’s premier has announced that anyone who refuses to get the first vaccination against Covid 19 for non-health reasons will have to make a “healthcare contribution.” Some are referring to it as a tax, but the province has not detailed exactly how it will be charged.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Henry said in a press briefing Tuesday that workers in certain industries in the province, like BC Ferries and health care workers, must be vaccinated, but there will not be an across-the-board provincial vaccine mandate.

“We are not planning a similar measure in B.C.,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix. “I would say, all of our vaccination campaigns have been exceptionally successful here.”

Dix referenced high numbers of vaccination in the province.

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In addition, BC health officials will be examining whether or not some restrictions will be lifted next week. The Public Health Order that closed gyms and restricted the size of indoor get-togethers is set to expire next Tuesday.

The PHO also said they continue to see Omicron create mild illness. However, she said they don’t know the full effects of Omicron and some restrictions may not be lifted.

“What this means in the short term is that the restrictions on gatherings and events are likely to remain unchanged for now,” said Henry. “We are looking at what we can safely resume now that all businesses are starting to put COVID safety plans back in place.”

She said treatments like antivirals, such as paxlovid that, are currently under review by Health Canada and they are hoping they will be available by the end of this month.

The province announced in December that certain restrictions will be in place until the end of January. More temporary restrictions – limiting restaurants, bars and sports events – will be reviewed next week Tuesday.

While the case totals and rates of transmission are high, Dr. Henry said vaccinations are lowering the risk of individuals winding up in the hospital, and many in hospital are sick with the Delta variant.

She said the risk of going to hospital for those who are vaccinated decreases by 60 per cent.

As people continue to work through the pandemic, officials are asking that risk assessments are made to keep others safe.

They say this may include considering age, who people interact with at work or on the job.

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