Canada Needs A COVID Vaccination Incentive Program Now



May 19, 2021

OTTAWA, ON – Canadian think tank Cardus is calling on the federal government to introduce vaccine incentives aimed at encouraging vaccine uptake.

Under the proposal, each fully vaccinated Canadian would receive a cash incentive of up to $90 to be spent at local businesses and charities. More details are available in a newly released Cardus policy brief by Brian Dijkema, Vice President of External Affairs at Cardus, and Sean Speer, Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy.

“We have seen vaccine uptake in the United States plateau,” says Dijkema. “So, as vaccine supply improves in Canada, now is the right time to provide Canadians with an incentive to avoid complacency and to keep our vaccination momentum going so we can beat this pandemic.”

Vaccine incentives have a track-record of success. In jurisdictions like Australia, where vaccine incentives are in place, immunization coverage exceeds 90%. The brief also notes that the best incentive policies focus on rewarding community solidarity rather than providing compensation.

“Vaccines are most effective when everyone participates,” write Dijkema and Speer. “Our proposal encourages this participation by providing Canadians with an incentive that not only helps individuals, but the whole community. Local businesses and charities have been particularly hard hit during this pandemic, and an incentive you can spend helping a local restaurant or charity recognizes that the only way out of this pandemic is together.”

It is also affordable. At a one-time price-tag of $1.8 billion to $2.8 billion, the incentive is a bargain compared to the costs of continuing wage subsidies and other supports, which already top $100 billion.  

“Vaccines protect individuals but also the whole community,” write the authors. “And an incentive that encourages vaccinations by providing a reward, while providing citizens with an incentive to spend in their own communities, is a win-win-win-win.”

The policy brief is freely available online.


 Daniel Proussalidis
 Cardus – Director of Communications


Cardus is a non-partisan think tank dedicated to clarifying and strengthening, through research and dialogue, the ways in which society's institutions can work together for the common good.

Topics: COVID-19