Quebec government’s second attempt at accelerated infrastructure bill
Quebec’s Chair of the Treasury Board Sonia Lebel introduced Bill 66 on Wednesday, an act that aims to accelerate major infrastructure projects, including schools, seniors’ homes, hospitals and public transit.
The Quebec government also produced a closed list of 181 priority projects that are considered eligible for accelerated procedures. Although the 21 projects linked to Bill 61 no longer appear on the list, the government said they remain a top priority.
Those projects have changed slightly over time, according to a press release, with many of them either completed or under construction. After listening to the concerns raised about Bill 61, the provincial government introduced this bill in hopes of meeting everyone’s expectations.
Lebel said there is more that needs to be done in order to revive Quebec’s economy, which took a significant hit throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. She added that gradually bringing back day-to-day activities isn’t enough to help the situation.
“We must be proactive and act now. I am counting on the cooperation of the National Assembly to ensure that everyone works together to pass this important bill, which aims to accelerate projects without cutting corners in terms of environmental integrity and protection,” said Lebel.
Bill 66 also aims to reinforce the integrity of the public contracting process, strengthen environmental procedures and develop a system of accountability and transparency. The Autorité des marchés publics (AMP) will be responsible for overseeing public contracts.
The AMP will be able to review public contracts and sub-contracts. They also have the power to order remedial action, suspend and terminate contracts. The bill also provides biannual reports for each of the projects undergoing accelerated procedures.
The press release states that the bill meets Quebec’s rigorous environmental standards. The goal is to accelerate infrastructure projects while simultaneously maintaining the same environmental protection standards.
If a project breaks the Environment Quality Act, it will be subject to major fines and sanctions. In response to concerned environmentalists skeptical about the projects, the bill will make it mandatory to have a professional follow up and ensure the environment is protected.