Canada: Quebec’s Environment Quality Act Toughened Up

On October 4, 2011, the Quebec National Assembly passed the Act to amend the Environment Quality Act in order to reinforce compliance, S.Q. 2011, c. 20, better known as Bill 89 (Bill 89). The Act amends the Environment Quality Act (EQA) to give the government new means to ensure compliance by, among other things, introducing administrative sanctions, increasing penal sanctions, expanding functionaries' inspection and order-making powers and making directors and officers of legal persons, partnerships and associations more accountable.

Administrative penalties system

Bill 89 provides for the creation of a system of administrative penalties that may be imposed on persons and municipalities that contravene the EQA or its regulations. Penalties range from $250 to $2,000 per day for a natural person and $1,000 to $10,000 per day for a legal person, depending on which provisions or obligations have been breached, in accordance with what is decided by the functionaries of the Quebec Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks (MDDEP). The administrative penalty is always a fixed amount, whether the offender is a natural person or a legal person.

Under Bill 89, an administrative penalty may be imposed by "a person designated by the Minister." The person subject to the penalty may seek a review of the decision by a person designated by the Minister who must not come under the same administrative authority as the persons who impose such penalties. The review decision may be contested before the Administrative Tribunal of Québec. Bill 89 also provides for the imposition of an administrative penalty in addition to any penal proceedings instituted for the same offence, unless the penal proceedings have already been instituted for that offence. However, the same facts cannot give rise to the imposition of two administrative penalties.

Strengthening penal sanctions

Bill 89 raises the penalties that may be imposed on a person or municipality convicted of an offence under the EQA or its regulations. Whereas fines previously ranged from $300 to $500,000 per day for a legal person, depending on the category of the offence, they will now range from $3,000 to $6,000,000 per day for a first offence. These fines may be increased to as much as three times the amount for a subsequent offence. Bill 89 also contains a provision listing various aggravating factors that a judge must take into account in determining the penalty. These include the seriousness of the harm or damage to human health or the environment, the foreseeable character of the offence, the cost to society of repairing the harm or damage caused, and the failure of the offender to take reasonable measures to prevent the commission of the offence or limit its effects despite being financially able to do so.

In sentencing a person or municipality for an offence under the EQA, a judge can order the offender to restore things to their original state or a state approximating their original state, refrain from any action or activity that may lead to the commission of an offence, pay a sum of money to the Green Fund, pay compensation for repair of the damage resulting from the commission of the offence, implement compensatory measures, provide security and even make public the conviction and any prevention and repair measures imposed by the court. The prescription period has been increased to five years from the date the offence was committed and to two years from the date on which an inspection or investigation was begun in the event of false representations, a discharge of a contaminant into the environment and an offence relating to hazardous materials.

To guide the MDDEP in enforcing the EQA through monetary administrative sanctions or penal or civil sanctions, the legislature has required that the Minister develop and make public a "general framework" prescribing the circumstances in which the administration will use these mechanisms. The legislature took the opportunity to codify the offence notice mechanism, which is now called a notice of non-compliance.

Director liability

Bill 89 makes directors and officers of a legal person, partnership or association more accountable by providing that if a legal person or an agent, mandatary or employee of a legal person, partnership or association without legal personality commits an offence under the EQA or its regulations, its directors or officers are presumed to have committed the offence unless it is established that the director or officer exercised due diligence. The applicable fines will be two times the minimum and maximum fines that would ordinarily apply in the case of a natural person. The civil liability of corporate directors and officers has also been increased as they are now solidarily liable for any amounts owed to the Minister under the EQA and its regulations unless they establish that they exercised due care and diligence to prevent the failure which led to the claim.

Increased order-making and inspection powers

Bill 89 significantly increases the order-making, inspection and investigative powers of the functionaries tasked with applying the law, as well as their power to deny or revoke environmental permits. The functionaries will have the power to order a stop to activities that are in violation of the Act, the carrying out of corrective work, the demolition of work or the implementation of compensatory measures. Their inspection powers have been expanded to include, among others, the power to take photographs and make video and sound recordings.

The Minister and the Government also now have, under various conditions, the discretionary power to deny, suspend or revoke a certificate of authorization if the applicant or holder or, in the case of a legal person, one of its directors, officers, shareholders or money lenders has, as the case may be, committed environmental, fiscal or criminal offences or was a director, officer or shareholder of a legal person that has committed environmental, fiscal or criminal offences. This system is similar to the legislative regime enacted some time ago by the Government to prevent crime in the construction industry.

Lastly, the legislature has ordered the Minister to improve administration transparency. From now on, a public register containing information on all administrative penalties and penal sanctions imposed under the EQA will be kept and that information and the full texts of orders and notices of orders issued under the EQA will be posted on the MDDEP website.

Coming into force

Bill 89 came into force on November 4, 2011, except for the sections establishing an administrative penalties system, which will come into force on February 1, 2012.

Norton Rose OR LLP

Norton Rose OR LLP is a member of Norton Rose Group, a leading international legal practice offering a full business law service to many of the world's pre-eminent financial institutions and corporations from offices in Europe, Asia Pacific, Canada, Africa and the Middle East.

The Group's lawyers share industry knowledge and sector expertise across borders to support clients anywhere in the world. The Group is strong in financial institutions; energy; infrastructure, mining and commodities; transport; technology and innovation; and pharmaceuticals and life sciences.

Norton Rose Group has more than 2600 lawyers operating from 39 offices in Abu Dhabi, Amsterdam, Athens, Bahrain, Bangkok, Beijing, Brisbane, Brussels, Calgary, Canberra, Cape Town, Dubai, Durban, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, London, Melbourne, Milan, Montréal, Moscow, Munich, Ottawa, Paris, Perth, Piraeus, Prague, Québec, Rome, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, Toronto and Warsaw; and from associate offices in Dar es Salaam, Ho Chi Minh City and Jakarta.

Norton Rose Group comprises Norton Rose LLP, Norton Rose Australia, Norton Rose OR LLP, Norton Rose South Africa (incorporated as Deneys Reitz Inc), and their respective affiliates.

On January 1, 2012, Macleod Dixon merges with Norton Rose OR, creating a global energy and mining powerhouse within Norton Rose Group. For more information, please visit

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions