Very early on, the Government of Quebec (Government) announced that infrastructure was to play a key role in restarting Quebec’s economy, which was severely impacted by the COVID‑19 pandemic. It also emphasized the need to secure a certain level of medical self-sufficiency and food autonomy to deal with the long-term repercussions of the pandemic and other similar events in the future.
In light of this, on June 3, 2020, Bill 61, An Act to restart Québec’s economy and to mitigate the consequences of the public health emergency declared on 13 March 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic (Bill 61) was tabled by the Minister Responsible for Government Administration and Chairman of the Conseil du trésor, Christian Dubé. The Government hopes that Bill 61 will be adopted shortly.
As its title indicates, Bill 61 aims to restart Quebec’s economy mainly by accelerating certain projects, principally in the infrastructure sector. In addition, drawing lessons from supply issues caused by the pandemic within certain priority sectors—such as health and food—Bill 61 aims to increase Quebec’s medical and food self-sufficiency. Furthermore, Bill 61 provides for a 90-day transitional period once the public health emergency is terminated, during which period, measures may be taken regarding the health sector, fiscal matters or permits, among others, to ensure a seamless return to normality.
Bill 61 provides that the Government may, for a period of two years following date of the bill’s passing, make the following projects (Projects) benefit from acceleration measures:
- Any of the 202 social , road and public transit infrastructure projects listed in its schedule, in which case the Government will designate a Minister responsible for each such project
- By decree made following expedited examination by the competent committee of the National Assembly:
- Certain infrastructure projects referred to in the Public Infrastructure Act
- Projects developed by a municipal body or other public bodies not referred to in the Public Infrastructure Act
- Projects developed by a person or group other than a public body where the Government is of the opinion that such projects are aimed at increasing Quebec’s medical or food self-sufficiency
Pursuant to Bill 61, the acceleration measures from which the Projects may benefit are the following:
Bill 61 sets out annual reporting requirements applicable to Projects benefiting from these aforementioned measures.
Bill 61 also provides that, for a period of two years, the Government may, by regulation and upon the recommendation of the Conseil du trésor, determine conditions applicable to public contracts and subcontracts governed by the Act respecting contracting by public bodies that differ from conditions prescribed in such act and its regulations; this section of Bill 61 is applicable notwithstanding the Act respecting contracting by public bodies.
Reaction from the opposition and various stakeholder groups has been swift, pre-empting even the tabling of Bill 61. It will be interesting to follow the virtual consultations expected to take place shortly.
For further information, please contact:
Alain Massicotte 514-982-4007
Clémentine Sallée 514-982-4077
Zina El Amrani 514-982-4074
or any other member of our Infrastructure group.
Please visit our COVID-19 Resource Centre to learn more about how COVID-19 may impact your business.
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