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By threatening to implement a vaccine tax, Quebec is ostensibly trying to make vaccination against COVID-19 obligatory. Although such a measure would probably violate Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the government could argue that it’s justified because it’s needed to fight the pandemic’s latest wave.

Allowing an exemption for those with medical conditions would buttress the government’s position.

“It would be a close call,” Grey said when asked whether the courts would uphold Quebec’s position if a future law would be challenged.

https://montrealgazette.com/news/quebec/quebecs-anti-vax-tax-difficult-to-enforce-experts-say

If people challenge the decision of implementing an anti-vax tax, would the government have to wait before taxing people? I am wondering if the government can still implement it and force people to pay even if the decision is challenged in court. I am thinking the government might be able to tax people and then refund people if the court doesn't uphold the decision instead of a court challenge being able to postpone the tax indefinitely.

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I am wondering if the government can still implement it and force people to pay even if the decision is challenged in court.

Laws are not automatically put on hold because they are challenged.

For an action or a law to be halted by the Court before a decision is made, the applicant would have to seek an interlocutory injunction, which are granted only if, as established in RJR-MacDonald Inc. v. Canada (Attorney General), [1994] 1 SCR 311,

  • (i) is there a serious issue to be tried,
  • (ii) will the party seeking the injunction suffer irreparable harm if it is not granted, and
  • (iii) does the balance of convenience favour the party seeking the injunction.

The first issue is rarely a problem, especially for a controversial issue like this.

I am thinking the government might be able to tax people and then refund people if the court doesn't uphold the decision instead of a court challenge being able to postpone the tax indefinitely.

A quantifiable financial harm is rarely irreparable (in private law cases). However there is an important exception for Charter cases where a financial harm is assumed to be irreparable because damages are often not awarded in constitutional cases. Though in this case it might be considered reparable because the quantification of damage and the method of redress are straightforward.

For the third question, the Court needs to weigh both sides' interests in the case where the injunction is granted. Even if the damage is deemed irreparable, the Court may (or may not) still find the public interest in health outweighs the financial interests of the unvaccinated.

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