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With COVID-19 cases putting Canada's hospitals at or near capacity, Quebec's unprecedented plan to tax adult residents who refuse to be vaccinated is coming under fire.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association says the tax plan is deeply troubling, noting the Charter of Rights and Freedoms recognizes individual autonomy over our bodies and medical decisions.

In an emailed statement Tuesday night, Cara Zwibel, acting general counsel for the association, says the tax penalty is a divisive measure that will end up punishing and alienating those who may be most in need of public health supports and services.

She says Quebec Premier Francois Legault's government should abandon what she calls a "constitutionally vulnerable proposal."

Quebec reported 2,742 COVID-related hospitalizations Tuesday, with 255 patients in intensive care, along with another 62 deaths.

Omicron's fast-moving spread has led to staff shortages across the country, prompting Ontario's health minister to announce that internationally educated nurses will be allowed to work in the province's hospitals, long-term care homes and other health settings.

In Nova Scotia, a legislative committee heard that 25 of the province's 133 nursing homes have stopped accepting new admissions because of staffing issues partly caused by the pandemic.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 12, 2022.

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