(CNN)Quebec's premier said Tuesday his province would scrap any attempt to tax people who haven't gotten their Covid-19 vaccinations, as his government proposed just weeks ago, citing concerns about dividing people and straining their mental health.
Quebec premier drops 'unvaxxed tax' plan, saying it 'divided' people
"I have to make sure that I protect the health of Quebecers, but I have also to protect the peace in our society," said Quebec Premier François Legault during a news conference in Quebec City.
Legault acknowledged that it seemed his government's proposal to charge the unvaccinated a yearly "health contribution" for refusing the get the shots had already increased the number of people booking first-time vaccinations, but he said it was time to abandon the idea.
"In the last week or so there's an increase in the reaction of people. They are angry more than ever," he said. "I don't like to see Quebecers divided like we're seeing."
Legault underscored that Quebecers have generally adhered to public health measures, and the province now has some of the highest vaccination rates in the world.
He added that balancing mental and physical health was tough and said he is taking people's frustration and anger with health restrictions into consideration.
While nearly 90% of eligible Quebecers have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, the unvaccinated remain a burden on the province's public health system, the government has said.
The majority of patients in Quebec hospitals remain unvaccinated, public health officials said in January.