The Québec Minister of Sustainable Development,
Environment and Parks, Ms Line Beauchamp, recently tabled a new
bill to the National Assembly that aims to reinforce compliance
with the Environment Quality Act (the "Act"),
notably by introducing new administrative sanctions and increasing
the penal sanctions that have existed for over 20 years.
The amendments would allow the Minister to impose administrative
sanctions without having to first sue offenders. The amount of
these sanctions would remain to be determined by regulation.
In addition to these administrative sanctions, the Minister also
wishes to significantly increase the fines that can be imposed by
the courts in case of violation of the Act. For a first offense,
and depending on the type of offense, the fines would range from
$1,000 to $1 million for an individual, from $2,000 to $2 million
for a director or officer of an offending corporation and from
$3,000 to $6 million for a corporation. Imprisonment for up to 3
years could also be imposed in addition to these increased fines.
For repeat offenders, the fines could double or triple meaning
that, in the case of a corporation, a fine of up to $18 million
could be imposed for a third offense.
The amendments would also introduce four categories of offenses
to which different sanctions would attach. The most serious
offenses would include the emission or discharge of a contaminant
in greater quantity or concentration than allowed by the
governement, the emission of a prohibited contaminant, the failure
to advise the Minister of the accidental discharge of contaminants,
the non-compliance with a ministerial order and the failure to
submit for approval a characterization study or a rehabilitation
There are currently no indications as to when these amendments
may come into effect.
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