New Environmental Bill 89

Caution! New Environmental Bill 89.

During this election there was very little discussion about the environment. The environment is everyone’s business and ignoring it does not make it go away, and in general things are getting worse. The slow drip of a water faucet is waste, but the urgency to do something about it hits home when we see a water bill. The leaking of an underground storage tank is out of sight, out of mind until it is time to remove it, then the leaking of oil can be disastrous. There is illegal waste dumping, passing the costs onto taxpayers, there are unreported spills, and the list goes on. From a business ownership point of view, it is not the things that you can see that will bite into your nest egg, but the things you cannot see.

The government recently passed a new law, Bill 89, which in essence requires owners and operators of businesses to comply with the Environmental Quality Act (EQA). In fact, this bill amends the penal system and implements a system of Administrative Monetary Penalties that were adjusted upward in order to become more of an effective deterrent. The goal is to strengthen the application of the EQA. The fines for neglecting Bill 89 can be very severe, in the millions.

For all practical purposes, after a few months, more aware business leaders have already become concious of the new legislation on a pecuniary as well as personal level with respect to criminal environmental liability. This new awareness first materializes as regulatory compliance, either in the form of requests for certificates of authorization for industrial activities, waste water or air treatment systems, as these are among the best ways to demonstrate due diligence.

The certificate of authorization is issued by the Québec Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment, Wildlife and Parks (MDDEFP) and approved by the municipality. It determines what your company will be doing and how the activities will be monitored. If the conditions outlined in the certificate are respected, the likelihood of a Bill 89 infraction being applied to your company is minimal.

Some say the Bill protects us from ourselves; I think we can agree that we could all use that sometimes.

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