Introduction of Bill 61
The President of the Treasury Board introduced Bill 61 on June 3, 2020. This bill provides for the acceleration of 202 infrastructure projects that have the potential to promote Québec's economic recovery. The list includes the following projects: construction of seniors' homes, nursing homes and hospitals, elementary and secondary schools, roads and public transit systems. It should be noted that the government may add other projects to this list, including projects related to medical self-sufficiency or food self-sufficiency in Quebec.
The proposed amendments of the bill are summarized below:
- Acceleration measures regarding the acquisition of property: the bill provides for a simplified expropriation process.
- Acceleration measures regarding the occupation of public lands: the bill provides for the possibility of undertaking work on a portion of public lands before obtaining the required rights.
- Acceleration measures regarding environmental quality: the bill allows the government to replace certain provisions of the Environmental Quality Act with regulations in order to streamline and speed up the applicable processes.
- Acceleration measures regarding land use planning and development: the bill states that the Act respecting land use planning and development does not apply to government interventions. It also provides that the government may pass a by-law to make changes to the compliance review process or to the application and enforcement of municipal by-laws. Such regulation may also differ from the interim control measures of a regional county municipality or a metropolitan community.
With respect to public contracts and sub-contracts, clause 50 of the bill would allow the government to determine terms and conditions different from those set out in the Act respecting contracting by public bodies within two years after the passage of the act.
In addition, clause 31 of the bill provides for the extension of the public health emergency declared by Order in Council 177-2020. This state of emergency would be maintained until the government terminates it, in accordance with section 128 of the Public Health Act.
It should be noted that neither the government, a minister, a public body nor any other person may be prosecuted for an act performed in good faith in the exercise of powers under this law.
We remain available to assist all businesses wishing to learn more about the potential impact of the proposed amendments on their operations.
Gradual reopening of businesses
Quebec is continuing the gradual reopening of its economy, which began over the past few weeks. To this end, the Quebec government recently published a "deconfinement planning" document detailing the next steps to be taken by the province as it lifts the lockdown (available here). As such, activities will resume in the following sectors, provided that health measures are respected:
May 29, 2020:
- Public libraries (circulation desks only);
- Drive-in cinemas (provided that viewing is done from inside a vehicle).
May 30, 2020:
- Outdoor public spaces such as outdoor swimming pools and play structures in parks, including water play areas.
June 1, 2020:
- School boards and private educational institutions, to the extent required by orders;
- Private health facilities;
- Therapeutic care facilities, including physical, psychological and social care;
- Pet grooming;
- Businesses in the personal care and beauty sector located outside the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal (”CMM”) and the municipalité régionale de comté ("MRC") of Joliette;
- Music and sound recording studios as well as recording of live performances without an audience;
- Camping establishments, outfitting establishments and marinas;
- Tourist residences and principal residence establishments, if they are located outside the CMM and MRC of Joliette;
- Childcare centres, daycare centres and family daycares located in the CMM and MRC of Joliette;
- Shopping centres located outside the CMM and the MRC of Joliette.
June 8: On June 1, 2020, the Minister of Culture and Communications announced that activities in the audiovisual production sector will resume on June 8, 2020. This includes all filming activities as well as pre-production and post-production activities of all types (variety, drama, film, documentary, etc.)
June 15: The Minister of Employment and Social Solidarity announced that personal care and esthetic services businesses in the CMM and the MRC of Joliette will resume their activities on June 15, 2020.
Coming soon: The Minister of Culture and Communication says she is confident that the venues will resume their activities before the Fête nationale (June 24th).
Reopening of educational institutions and daycare services
Early childhood daycare emergency services ended on May 29, with the reopening of daycares and schools outside the CMM on May 11, 2020, and the reopening of MWC daycare centres on June 1, 2020.
That being said, in-school emergency child care services will remain open on the territory of the CMM and the MRC of Joliette until June 30, given the ongoing closure of the region's schools. This service is reserved for children aged 4 to 13 who are currently attending a preschool or elementary school and whose parents are employed in a job that entitles them to emergency childcare services.
On April 29, 2020, the deputy premier announced the phasing out of travel restrictions. Since the publication of our last newsletter (available here), the North Shore Health Region (including the Lower North Shore) has been reopened, effective June 1, 2020.
The Government of Québec has also announced that the Jamésie and the Terres-Cries-de-la-Baie-James regions will be accessible as of June 9, 2020.
As for Nunavik, a reopening date will be announced at a later time, as access to the region continues to be controlled by checkpoints.
Resumption of judicial activities
On May 28, 2020, the Minister of Justice announced that judicial and administrative tribunal activities will be gradually resuming as of June 1, 2020.
The following measures will be implemented to maximize physical distancing and limit the spread of the virus:
- Hearings will be held in camera;
- To limit traveling, a number of virtual courtrooms will be available for the hearing of cases determined by the judiciary;
Within a few weeks, it will be possible to file applications with the Superior Court or the Court of Quebec through