General questions

Yes, it is recommended that a specific plan be developed in the event of an outbreak or pandemic. The Gouvernement du Québec has prepared a guide to support the municipal sector in this regard :

Even if they have not developed such a plan, municipalities can take all the measures they deem necessary to protect their employees and ensure the continuity of essential services.

No. However, municipalities are encouraged to adopt measures similar to those applicable to public service staff to limit the risk of coronavirus spread among their employees.

Priority services

The government has ordered the suspension of all non-priority activities and services as of March 25, 2020.

 While leaving municipal organizations the leeway to identify the resources they consider essential and whose services need to be maintained (for example, services provided by the administration or certain other activities such as public works or housing), the government has identified a list of priority services and activities.

In municipalities, the priority services and activities that must be maintained - whether they are carried out by the municipalities themselves or by firms with which a contract has been signed - include the following:  

  • police services
  • fire departments
  • the dispatch centres of a police force or fire department
  • the 911 call service
  • waste collection and disposal services
  • services for the collection and sorting of recyclable materials
  • hazardous materials collection and processing services
  • organics collection and treatment services, including septic tank emptying
  • biomedical waste collection and treatment services
  • the activities of ecocentres and the collection of bulky items.
  • collection and sorting services for construction, renovation, and demolition waste.
  • pest management companies (for the control of bed bugs, rats, and mice in particular)
  • water and sewage treatment services
  • public transit and paratransit services
  • snow removal services
  • power generation activities
  • road and other municipal infrastructure maintenance activities

These measures are intended to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19 that could result from activities involving contact between a number of people, while ensuring that essential services and activities are maintained. 

It should be noted that police forces only authorize essential travel This hyperlink will open in a new window. between certain socio-health jurisdictions and that gatherings This hyperlink will open in a new window. are prohibited except, in particular, those required in a workplace that is not under government suspension. In this context and in order to facilitate movement of the personnel concerned, it is recommended that municipalities issue workers and professionals who are providing them with priority services a document authorizing them to travel for the purpose of providing these services. The signing of this document constitutes an administrative act and does not require the authorization of the government or the municipal council.

 It should be noted that telework is still permitted at all times for all services and activities of municipal organizations.

 The authorities are closely monitoring the situation and will inform the public of any new provisions that have to be respected.

Emergency childcare

Emergency childcare is an exceptional service for children of health and essential services personnel. Jobs are targeted based on their direct and immediate impact on the safety and health of the population.

Decree 177-2020 (March 13, 2020), order 2020-004 (March 15, 2020), order 2020-005 (March 17, 2020), order 2020-016 (April 7, 2020), and order 2020-029 (April 26, 2020) specify the job categories having access to emergency childcare services. Some job categories are more specifically related to the municipal environment :

  • firefighters
  • police officers
  • staff of a 9-1-1 emergency centre
  • staff of a police or fire department dispatch centre
  • personnel who are part of a garbage collection or treatment service and who have been recognized by the director general of the municipality as providing services deemed essential in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • personnel who are part of a water or wastewater treatment service and who have been recognized by the director general of the municipality as providing services deemed essential in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic

In the case of an outsourced essential service, the provider's personnel covered by the above employment categories may also benefit from emergency childcare services. In such cases, the head of the company in question must determine which staff members provide services deemed essential.

For more information, please refer to the complete list of essential jobs and services.

As of May 11, all daycare services, including non-subsidized daycare centres and recognized and non-recognized family daycare, will be gradually opened in all regions of Québec, except for those in the Montréal Metropolitan Community, which will open their doors on May 25. The so-called emergency daycare services will thus end on May 22. For more information on this subject, please consult the section on daycare services.

The specific framework applicable to the municipalities stemming from the health emergency

The Minister of Health and Social Services is responsible for the Public Health Act. When the government declares a health emergency, the Minister has the necessary powers to impose new rules and adapt existing rules to the situation. Discussions have taken place between the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and the Minister of Health and Social Services concerning the exceptional measures required for the municipal sector.

The Gouvernement du Québec has established a list of priority measures to ensure the health of the population in all Quebec municipalities. The measures selected ensure that municipalities will continue to exercise their responsibilities by adapting certain rules to the exceptional situation facing the population of Québec.

Other measures are not ruled out. The Gouvernement du Québec is closely monitoring the situation in conjunction with the authorities concerned.

Municipal elected officials must comply with the applicable laws, decrees, directives, and by-laws and exercise their powers within this legal and regulatory framework.

Sections 573.2 of the Cities and Towns Act and 937 of the Municipal Code of Québec stipulate that in the case of irresistible force of such a nature as to imperil the life or health of the population or to seriously damage the municipal equipment, the head of the council (mayor of a municipality or warden of an RCM) may order any expenditure he or she considers necessary and award any contract necessary to remedy the situation. This power should therefore be used only under such conditions and only as an exceptional measure. For the sake of transparency and sound public management, it is also suggested that it be used only in cases where the urgency of the situation does not allow the council to make a decision in a timely manner and according to the usual contractual rules.

Otherwise, the municipality's expenditures and contracts must be authorized by council, subject to the adoption of a by-law delegating to a municipal official the power to authorize expenditures and enter into contracts in the name of the municipality pursuant to sections 477.2 of the Cities and Towns Act and 165.1 of the Municipal Code of Québec.

It should also be noted that sections 573.2 of the Cities and Towns Act and 937 of the Municipal Code of Québec provide that the mayor of the municipality or the warden of the RCM, as the case may be, must report to council on the use of his or her power to decree expenditures and award contracts at the first meeting of council that follows.

Pursuant with the declaration of a state of health emergency by the gouvernement du Québec, the series of measures established by government decrees and ministerial orders of the Minister of Health and Social Services, and the importance of ensuring full and complete consistency between government interventions, those of the direction nationale de la santé publique and those of municipalities, the latter cannot declare a local state of emergency without first obtaining the authorization of the national public health director. This particular condition is the subject of Order No. 2020-014 adopted on April 2, 2020. Any municipality wishing to discuss the appropriateness of declaring a local state of emergency for a reason related to COVID-19 must first contact the direction de la santé publique in its territory. The latter will undertake a review of the situation in order to obtain authorization from the national public health director, if necessary.

In the event that a declaration of a state of local emergency is adopted in accordance with the conditions set out above, section 47 of the Civil Protection Act provides that the municipality may exercise specific powers to protect the life, health, or integrity of persons. In exercising the specific powers granted to it by virtue of a state of local emergency, the municipality must, however, in accordance with order 2020-014, comply with any conditions that the national public health director may set, including any restriction on one or more of these powers. In addition, the measures provided for in the declaration of a local state of emergency may not exceed the authority stipulated in section 47.

Any municipality that has declared a state of emergency under these conditions must send its declaration of a state of emergency to the direction régionale de la sécurité civile et de la sécurité incendie of the ministère de la Sécurité publique, accompanied by proof of authorization from the national public health director.

It is essential to aim for the greatest possible congruence between measures to be taken by municipalities and those taken by the government. This will make it easier to achieve the benefits sought by all these measures, which are intended to ensure the best possible protection of public health.

Municipalities should avoid purchasing N95 masks and other similar equipment since they are intended primarily for use in health care facilities. N95 masks, in particular, are reserved for clinical activities that generate a lot of aerosols.

Municipalities may, however, provide their employees with a face covering, which is recommended for use in public places where physical distancing is impossible. For more information on the wearing of face coverings, please refer to the general information on COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is an exceptional event that requires exceptional measures, with the aim of curbing the spread of the disease and protecting the population, while allowing society to continue to function as normally as possible.

The role of municipalities is essential in dealing with this pandemic. Several of the rules set out in the ministerial orders are intended to give them the latitude to act quickly and effectively in a context of uncertainty and risk.

Yes, municipalities have the authority to establish and manage a food assistance fund. The Municipal Powers Act stipulates, among other things, that a municipality may provide assistance to help people in need, or to support a charitable organization.

To issue tax receipts to citizens who contribute to a food assistance fund it has set up, the municipality must be a donee recognized by Revenu Québec and the Canada Revenue Agency.

The list of Quebec municipalities that are qualified donees is available on the Canada Revenue Agency This hyperlink will open in a new window.

The Regulation respecting municipal wastewater treatment works (RRMWTW) specifies that the operation and monitoring of treatment plants, as well as the required samplings, must be carried out by a person who is recognized as competent. However, given the unusual situation created by the COVID-19 pandemic, if no operator holding the qualification certificate required by the regulation is available, an experienced person who does not have a certificate may perform the necessary tasks to ensure the proper functioning of the treatment plant.

Consequently, the municipality may enlist the services of one of the following individuals:

  • An operator who holds a wastewater treatment certificate in another category (e.g., OW-2 rather than OW-1);
  • An operator who is due to renew his qualification certificate soon, or whose apprenticeship card is expiring (anyone working as a treatment plant operator and who holds an expired apprenticeship card or qualification certificate may perform the required tasks to ensure the proper functioning of the treatment plant during the pandemic). The expired card remains valid, pending renewal.
  • A former wastewater treatment plant operator who does not hold a qualification certificate (retired or former operator who has been assigned to other tasks);
  • An apprenticeship card holder (the deadline for obtaining a qualification certificate for operators who already have an apprenticeship card has been extended to December 31, 2021);
  • A person holding a certificate, attestation, or diploma that is on the recognized training list, but who does not have an apprenticeship card or qualification certificate;
  • A student in the process of obtaining a certificate, attestation, or diploma that is on the recognized training list;
  • As a last resort, other persons with knowledge about wastewater treatment but who do not hold an apprenticeship card or qualification certificate in this field.

If a person who does not hold a qualification certificate or apprenticeship card must operate a treatment plant, the person in charge must so inform the appropriate regional office of the Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques.

It should be noted that anyone working as a treatment plant operator holding a recently expired apprenticeship card or qualification certificate may perform the tasks required to ensure the treatment plant’s proper functioning during the pandemic, pending renewal. The expired document will be considered valid.

The Regulation respecting the quality of drinking water (RRQDW) specifies that the operation and monitoring of a treatment plant or distribution network, as well as the collection of the required samples, must be carried out by a person recognized as competent. However, given the unusual situation created by the COVID-19 pandemic, if no operator holding the qualification certificate required by the regulation is available, an experienced person who does not have a certificate may perform the necessary tasks to ensure the proper functioning of the treatment plant, distribution network or sample collection. Consequently, the person in charge may enlist the services of one of the individuals below, in the following order of priority:

  • An operator who holds a drinking water qualification certificate in another category;
  • An operator who holds a recently expired apprenticeship card or qualification certificate. The expired document will be considered valid pending renewal.
  • A former drinking water operator who does not hold a qualification certificate (retired or former operator who has been assigned to other tasks);
  • An apprenticeship card holder;
  • A person holding a certificate, attestation, or diploma that is on the recognized training list, but who does not have an apprenticeship card or qualification certificate;
  • A student in the process of obtaining a certificate, attestation, or diploma that is on the recognized training list.

When possible, it is recommended to ensure that, if one of the persons listed above is in charge of treatment plant operations, an operator holding the required qualification certificate or an operator having worked at that plant during the past five years can be contacted remotely in the event that a problem arises.

If a person who does not hold a qualification certificate or apprenticeship card must operate a drinking water distribution system, the person in charge must so inform the appropriate regional office of the Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques.

The application of municipal biosolids is strictly regulated in Québec. The requirements that must be met in this regard limit the risk of SARS-CoV-2 virus transmission.

Municipal biosolids applied in Québec must comply with environmental quality requirements, particularly in terms of pathogen content. To achieve these levels of quality, biosolids undergo chemical, physical or biological treatments. This significantly reduces the likelihood of SARS-CoV-2 presence and viral activity in biosolids.

The combined action of the wastewater treatment chain and environmental guidelines that delineate the application of these biosolids ensures safe recycling for the population and the environment.

International references

According to the Center for Disease Control (the U.S. federal agency for the protection of public health), coronaviruses are less resistant to various forms of treatment than are other types of viruses.

The World Health Organization (WHO) also maintains that, like other coronaviruses, SARS-CoV-2 is less resistant in the environment and is likely to become inactive in wastewater. The WHO further maintains that treatments applied upstream of municipal biosolids generation lessens the probability that viruses are present while at the same time reducing viral activity.

Refer to provincial and federal agencies for health and safety issues related to the handling of biosolids.

Access to a municipality’s amenities

The municipality must prohibit public access to its facilities and premises used for cultural, recreational, sports or community activities (e.g., library, arena, swimming pool, building housing meeting rooms, convention centre), unless they are temporarily used for public health or safety purposes.

It should also be noted that the gouvernement du Québec has prohibited indoor and outdoor gatherings, with the exception of gatherings

  • required in a workplace that is not subject to a Quebec government suspension, provided that employees maintain, as much as possible, a minimum distance of two metres between each other.
  • in a public place offering a service or good (businesses, government services, etc.) that is not subject to a suspension by the gouvernement du Québec, provided that clients maintain, as far as possible, a minimum distance of two metres between each other.
  • in a means of transportation, provided that users maintain, as far as possible, a minimum distance of two metres between each other.
  • bringing occupants together in a private home or in a place used in its stead, together with any other person providing a service or support to them. Persons providing a service or support must maintain, to the extent possible, a minimum distance of two metres from occupants.

Outdoor gatherings are permitted when a minimum distance of two metres is maintained between all persons, excluding persons living in the same private home.

In order to slow down and curb the contagion caused by COVID-19 as much as possible, the gouvernement du Québec has ordered the cancellation of festivals as well as indoor and outdoor cultural events planned on Québec territory until August 31, 2020.

Under decree 222-2020 of March 22, 2020, outdoor gatherings are now prohibited, with some exceptions. Outdoor gatherings are permitted when a minimum distance of two metres is maintained between all persons, excluding persons living in the same private home.

Consequently, municipalities must put in place the necessary measures so that park modules and playgrounds under their responsibility do not allow for gatherings that are prohibited.

Decree 222-2020 of March 20, 2020 prohibits all indoor or outdoor gatherings, with the exception of gatherings in a public place to obtain a service or good that is not covered by a suspension imposed by the gouvernement du Québec. The government has prepared a list of priority services and activities that are not suspended. In addition, municipal organizations can determine the resources they consider essential and whose services must be maintained, while promoting telework for most services.

In this context, it is up to each municipality to choose whether to open or close its offices. It is also possible for the municipality to partially open its offices and allow citizens to access them to obtain services that are not suspended or that are deemed essential by the municipality. However, the municipality must ensure that a minimum distance of two metres between people can be maintained and that the health directives are respected.

As of March 20, 2020, outdoor gatherings This hyperlink will open in a new window. are prohibited, with some exceptions, such as when a minimum distance of two metres is maintained between people.

As a result, a municipality may authorize the use of municipal watercraft launching equipment. However, the municipality must put in place the necessary measures that respect public health guidelines so that access to this equipment does not lead to gatherings that are prohibited. The gouvernement du Québec also recommends that municipalities remind users of the applicable social distancing rules and the sanitary measures prescribed by Santé publique to prevent the spread of the virus.

The government has ordered the suspension of all non-priority services and activities effective March 25, 2020. However, food production is considered a priority activity.

In this context, municipalities may allow access to community garden areas, including municipal greenhouses, under their jurisdiction.

In such cases, it is recommended that municipalities put in place the necessary measures to ensure that the use of these community garden areas complies with public health guidelines and does not lead to gatherings that are prohibited. To this end, the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) has produced a document that includes information on the conditions that must be respected to ensure the protection of users in the current context of the COVID-19 pandemic (available in French only).

For a poster to place at the entrance of a community garden so as to prevent infection, please see the publication Information for Community Garden Users This hyperlink will open in a new window..

In the exercise of their jurisdiction, municipalities may authorize public places to be used for the distribution and supply of food directly from farms and food processing businesses (e.g., distribution of market garden produce). In addition, since under decree 223 2020, food business activities are considered a priority, permanent or seasonal public markets can maintain their direct sales to consumers. By authorizing these activities, municipalities are strategically contributing to food self-sufficiency and the consumption of local products.

However, where appropriate, it is recommended that municipalities ensure that these activities are consistent with existing municipal regulations and that those responsible for such activities are able to enforce preventive health guidelines.

For more information, please refer to the page on direct sales at farmers' markets, stands, shops, and delivery points, which includes guides on how to apply the recommended preventive measures.

Functioning of the municipalities

Yes, municipalities are required to hold a regular meeting at least once a month, as required by law.

Order 2020-004 of March 15, 2020, issued by the Minister of Health and Social Services, allowed municipalities to hold council meetings in camera and authorized elected officials to participate by any means of communication. If the elected representatives gather for the meeting, they must respect the health directives, including maintaining a distance of two metres between each person. The rules governing the holding of council meetings in the context of a health emergency have since been replaced by order 2020-029 of April 26, 2020, which applies to any meeting, session, or assembly held in person, including any meeting held by a municipality or municipal body. It should be noted that mandatory public consultation meetings are not affected, insofar as they are suspended or replaced by a written consultation under order 2020-008 of March 22, 2020 (see the section on meetings and consultations).

Under the new applicable rules, it is still possible to hold council meetings by any means allowing its members to communicate directly with each other and to vote orally. Given the prohibition of indoor and outdoor gatherings, council meetings may be held without the presence of the public. Where possible, however, the municipality is encouraged to allow citizens to attend by means other than in person (e.g., by video conference or telephone).

Order 2020-029 of April 26, 2020, also sets out certain requirements to ensure the transparency of meetings that, by law, must be public. These requirements apply in particular to meetings of a municipal council, a metropolitan community, a public transit corporation, or an inter-municipal board. Such a meeting must henceforth be made public, as soon as possible, by any means that allows the public to learn the substance of the discussions among council members and the outcome of their deliberations. To meet this obligation, the municipality may, in particular, use one or other of the following means:

  • the publication of an audio or audiovisual recording of the meeting made by means of a device such as a tablet, telephone, or camera. 
  • the complete transcription of the deliberations of council members in a document accessible to the public. 
  • the broadcasting of the council meeting on a digital platform or by other means that allow citizens to access it.

It should be noted that the mere publication of minutes, although still required by law, is not sufficient to satisfy the obligation set out in the order, unless the document reproduces the proceedings of the council meeting in their entirety.

This is an exceptional measure whose application will be temporary. Its objective is to allow the municipal council to continue to make decisions necessary for the operation of the municipality, without compromising the health of elected officials or citizens. Municipalities have a duty to use it reasonably and when circumstances warrant. Municipalities are encouraged to allow citizens to attend sessions other than in person (e.g., by videoconference or telephone).

It should be noted that under order 2020-029 of April 26, 2020, municipalities are required to make council meetings public as soon as possible. To this end, they must use any means that allows the public to learn the full substance of the discussions among council members and the outcome of their deliberations. This requirement allows citizens to be informed of the substance of the decisions made by their elected municipal officials.

Municipalities are strongly encouraged to include, for any council meeting, a period during which any person may ask questions of elected municipal officials. These questions could be verbal questions transmitted through a means of communication provided by the municipality, or written questions. If the municipality prefers a written questioning procedure, these questions and the answers provided by council members could be recorded in a publicly accessible register. Finally, the use of social media may be considered to promote exchanges between elected officials and citizens.

The means used by the municipality must allow council members to communicate directly with each other and to vote orally. For example, a municipality could hold a session by videoconference or by telephone.

Pursuant to the provisions of section 481 of the Cities and Towns Act and section 981 of the Municipal Code, a municipality may, by resolution, change the interest rate applicable on tax arrears for the remainder of the year. Since it may use this power as many times as it deems appropriate, such an amendment could also apply during the period determined by the municipality. However, if a municipality's interest rate has been previously decreed by by-law, it would be preferable to use a regulatory procedure again to change the rate. In such a case, if there are doubts about the choice of procedure, the municipality should consult its legal counsel.
 
Under section 250.1 of the Act respecting municipal taxation, a municipality may decree the rescinding of the penalty it had set on tax arrears for the remainder of the current year.
 
Under section 252 of the Act respecting municipal taxation, a municipality may also, by by-law, change the schedule of remaining payments of tax accounts or extend the deadlines for such payments. 

In the event of a lack of liquidity, the council may decree by resolution temporary loans for the payment of expenses for day-to-day administration. Such borrowing does not require ministerial approval.

Yes, while municipalities are normally prevented by law from passing deficit budgets, there are legal procedures in place enabling municipalities to make up a deficit when it is anticipated at the end of the fiscal year. The Act provides, among other things, that a deficit may be consolidated by a borrowing by-law. Where applicable, it may also be absorbed by the accumulated surpluses of the municipality.

Of course, considering the principle that the municipality must ensure that sufficient credits are available before authorizing an expenditure, the recourse to a deficit must be based on exceptional circumstances. Municipalities facing a possible deficit due to the consequences of the current COVID-19 pandemic could thus benefit from the terms and conditions mentioned above.

To the extent that the Act respecting municipal taxation already guarantees full respect of the entire range of property owners’ rights while ensuring full enjoyment of these rights despite the current context, there doesn’t seem to be a need to extend the April 30, 2020 deadline for filing an application for review of the real estate assessment roll that came into force on January 1, 2020. On the one hand, the application can be filed (s. 135) by filling out the form (PDF 816 Kb) and sending it to the ministère des Affaires municipale et de l’Habitation by registered mail. On the other hand, s. 134.1 of the Act also provides for the filing of an application outside of the prescribed deadline in cases where the deadline could not be respected by reason of circumstances of irresistible force.

Under the Act respecting municipal taxation (s. 138.3), the assessor seized of an application for review must assess the merits of the contestation and respond to the applicant. For applications for review of the real estate assessment roll in force since January 1, 2020, the assessor’s response must be sent before September 1, 2020. However, the municipal body responsible for assessment may, before August 15, 2020, postpone this deadline to November 1, 2020 or, if the local municipality agrees, to a later date up to April 2021. In view of this, it is not necessary to plan for additional deadline extension provisions for the assessor’s response to an application for review.

The Municipal Taxation Act (section 15) allows assessors or their representatives to visit any property to verify the accuracy of the information concerning it.

Considering that decree 505-2020, which came into effect on May 11, 2020, lifts the suspension applicable to activities carried out in the workplace with respect to building inspectors and assessors and chartered appraisers, the visiting of property provided for in the Municipal Taxation Act is therefore authorized. However, in the current context, it is essential that these visits be carried out in compliance with the directives of the public health authorities and the rules of social distancing.

Moreover, the Ordre des évaluateurs agréés du Québec has issued instructions to its members on this subject. Thus, the inspection of a building occupied during the last six days by a person carrying or suspected of carrying Covid-19 should be postponed. If the inspection of the building is deemed opportune, the inspector should give preference to wearing appropriate protective equipment.

Also, depending on the circumstances and taking into account the building in question, the Order's standards of practice allow, in the event that it is impossible to carry out a complete examination of a building, the use of other data collection methods such as obtaining missing information by means of a written statement from the owner.

The Ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Habitation will apply administrative tolerance as regards the deadline for filing the 2019 financial report.

When the public health emergency was declared by decree on March 13, 2020, there were a few calendar days left before the deadlines provided for in the applicable legislation, namely

  • 34 days for intermunicipal boards, public transit companies, the Autorité régionale de transport métropolitain, and the Réseau de transport métropolitain.
  • 64 days for local municipalities, regional county municipalities, and metropolitan communities.

As of the lifting of the health emergency, the Ministère will apply administrative tolerance for a time period equal to the calendar days indicated below, depending on the type of organization or agency concerned.

For example,

Assuming that the state of health emergency is lifted on May 3, 2020,

Tolerance will be applied until June 5, 2020 (i.e. a 34-day extension from May 3, 2020) for intermunicipal boards, public transit companies, the Autorité régionale de transport métropolitain, and the Réseau de transport métropolitain.

Tolerance will be applied until July 5, 2020 (i.e. a 64-day extension from May 3, 2020) for local municipalities, regional county municipalities, and metropolitan communities.

The organizations and agencies concerned will therefore have a time period equal to that provided for in the applicable legislation to prepare the required information and forward it to the Ministère.

No. Municipal legislation provides that electronic bidding can only be done through the government's electronic tendering system (ETS). At this time, this functionality in the SÉAO is not available to municipalities. Legislative amendments will be required to provide for the applicable terms and conditions should a municipality receive a bid with a digital signature that differs from the digital signature associated with the documents originally filed with the SÉAO by a company.  

For the time being, it would be premature to allow the electronic transmission of bids for the municipal sector. Please note that before allowing the electronic submission of bids for public bodies, the gouvernement du Québec carried out pilot projects to ensure that this functionality would work properly. This is also what the ministère des Affaires municipales et de l'Habitation intends to do once the above-mentioned issue has been addressed.

Finally, it should also be noted that postal services such as Canada Post and other courier companies are still in operation and are providing their regular services. In addition, municipalities are able to ensure a secure procedure for submitting a bid in person.

Intermunicipal cooperation is one option that municipalities can consider to ensure the continued delivery of municipal services. It maximizes the use of municipal services and facilities in an efficient manner. To support municipalities in the area of intermunicipal cooperation, the Gouvernement du Québec has provided the Guide pour l’élaboration des ententes intermunicipales (guide for the development of inter-municipal agreements (PDF 547 Kb)) (available in French only).

Municipalities can also hire additional workers to meet any future needs, and workers may come from another municipality as required. 

Regardless of the option considered, municipalities can benefit from support from the ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Habitation in matters of intermunicipal cooperation and municipal management through its regional branches.

In order to comply with health regulations prohibiting gatherings, the opening of bids received in response to a call for tenders must take place outside of the public sphere and away from those who have tendered. However, certain rules must be applied to ensure the public nature and transparency of the contracting process.

First, bids must be opened before two impartial witnesses. It is up to the municipal body to ensure that these witnesses have no connection with the contract in question.

Second, in order to ensure that the process is carried out in a transparent manner, the municipal body must post an audiovisual recording of the opening of bids in the form of an addendum in the electronic tendering system (SEAO). The opening in front of witnesses can be filmed by means of a tablet, telephone, or camera.

Moreover, the municipal body could, in its tender documents, inform bidders at the outset that the public opening of bids will be accessible, exceptionally, by means of an audiovisual recording filed in the SEAO, in the form of an addendum.

In the case of a public call for tenders, this will be transmitted by the SEAO to all purchasers of tender documents. The ministère des Affaires municipals et de l’Habitation recommends that the release of the video be done prior to publishing the conclusion of the contract. Within 30 days of its publication by addendum, a citizen will be also able to view the audiovisual recording associated with a call for tenders, provided that he or she has first registered with the SEAO. After this period, the audiovisual recording will no longer be available. 

In the case of an invited tender, the municipal body must also make its bid opening public through the SEAO. To do so :

  • the municipal body will create a new public tender notice with a notice number that will be sent to suppliers who have been invited to bid, so that they can view the bid opening.
  • after the minimum information in this new public tender notice has been completed, access to an addendum will allow the municipal body to publish its audiovisual recording up to the status "Pending contract." The Ministère recommends that the release of the video be done prior to publishing the conclusion of the contract.
  • in addition to completing the minimum information, in this new public tender notice, the municipal body must  
    • state in the description of the notice that it is not a public tender, but rather the opening results for an invited tender that has not been published on the SEAO.
    • attach at least one Word or PDF document to the notice. To this end, the municipal body must prepare a short document explaining that this notice is used to broadcast the video of the opening results of an invitation to tender that has not been published on the SEAO.
    • select the next day as the deadline for receipt of bids. Once this date is reached, it will be possible to publish the public opening via the Addendum tab.
  • The municipal body will also announce to the public, as soon as it publishes its contract with the SEAO from its list of contracts of $25,000 and over, that the audiovisual recording concerning the opening of bids for this contract is accessible by going to the public tender notice specifically created for this purpose.

Finally, if a municipal organization encounters a problem transferring its audiovisual recording to the SEAO, it can call upon the technical support of the SEAO's customer service department at the following address: https://seao.ca/Information/ServiceClientele.aspx This hyperlink will open in a new window. or between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday to Friday, at 1-866-669-7326.

In the context where several municipal services are currently suspended, it is up to each municipality to adopt the measures it deems appropriate for its personnel management situation, particularly with respect to maintaining employment relationships, in compliance with laws and collective agreements, the latter being subject to adjustments made in agreement with associations and trade unions. 

Like any other Québec employer, municipalities are encouraged to give preference to strategies that allow as many employees as possible to be retained, while taking the necessary measures to protect their health and safety. 

A municipality could, among other things, give preference to  

  • telework.
  • redeployment to other essential services functions.
  • secondment to other municipal agencies, community organizations, or the health network.

It is important to remember that collective agreements in the municipal sector remain applicable in the context of a health emergency. The flexibilities required to take the situation into account must therefore be discussed with the associations and unions.

Despite the obligation to adopt a balanced budget, a municipality cannot base a decision to lay off employees on the illegality of running a deficit during the year. Indeed, the law expressly provides for mechanisms to enable municipalities to run deficits.

The decision to proceed with layoffs is therefore a matter of municipal policy considerations rather than the application of legal provisions.

All property sales for non-payment of taxes that are due to take place during the period of a health emergency declared under the Cities and Towns Act or the Municipal Code of Québec must be postponed. This measure is designed to prevent gatherings that could lead to contagion, in the context of a public health emergency.

Moreover, in the event that a sale is scheduled for a date later than the period of declaration of a public health emergency, the municipalities and RCMs may pursue, according to their available resources, the procedures related to the sale of immovable property for non-payment of taxes, other than the sale itself. 

The clerk of the municipality or, as the case may be, the secretary-treasurer of the regional county municipality shall issue a new public notice of the sale. The sale may not take place until 15 days following this notice.

It should be noted that on March 15, Québec’s Chief Justice, Nicole Duval Hesler, and the Minister of Justice, Sonia Lebel, signed Order 2020-4251. This Order provides that the prescription and procedural periods in civil matters are suspended until the expiry of the period of the declaration of a public health emergency. Therefore, the running of the prescription period for municipal tax arrears, which is three years long, is put on hold until that expiry. 

By-elections

Municipal elections must be conducted in conditions that facilitate voting and protect the health of voters and election workers. In order to avoid the gathering of voters, under order 2020-003 of March 14, 2020, extended by subsequent decrees, electoral polls and advance polls connected to an electoral poll scheduled to be held during the period covered by the declaration of a public health emergency are cancelled for the period covered by the declaration of a public health emergency. Due to the current health emergency context, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Andrée Laforest, who is in charge of implementing the Act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities, has requested the postponement of election polls and advance polls until June 26, 2020.

Save for reasons relating to the loss of quorum, it is not necessary to contact and notify the ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Habitation concerning municipal council vacancies. In addition, under order 2020-003 of March 14, 2020, the section of the AERM providing that the returning officer must notify the Minister of his or her inability to fix a polling day within four months of the notice of the vacancy shall not be applied (AERM, section 339).

The situation regarding the terms and conditions for rescheduling elections, including polling dates, will be reviewed in June. Information will be posted in this Q&A document. Until June 26, 2020, returning officers are not to publish new election notices.

If a vacancy occurs while a public health emergency is declared, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Andrée Laforest, who administers the Act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities (AERM), will ask the electoral officer not to set the polling day. This applies to any vacancy on or after March 14, 2020.

In fact, it cannot be established with certainty that the conditions for holding an election under secure conditions will be in place in the summer of 2020 or the fall of 2020. The situation will be reconsidered in June and any new information in this regard will be included in this Q&A document.

The proclamation of the election of those elected by acclamation is maintained.

These persons are deemed to be in office, provided they are sworn in within the 30-day period set out in the Act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities.

Advance polls that have already been held are cancelled

Joint work will be carried out by the ministère des Affaires municipales et de l'Habitation and Élections Québec to determine the procedures applicable to such a situation. Instructions will be communicated by the Ministère to returning officers in due course.

The Act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities provides that the council may sit as long as a quorum is maintained.

In the event of a loss of quorum, the Commission municipale du Québec could administer the municipality on a provisional basis.

In the event where following a number of vacancies, the council cannot validly meet because it no longer has quorum, the municipality must notify the regional office of the ministère des Affaires municipales et de l'Habitation and the Commission municipale du Québec This hyperlink will open in a new window..

Joint work is in progress between the ministère des Affaires municipales et de l'Habitation and Élections Québec to determine the procedures applicable to such a situation. Instructions will be communicated by the Ministère to returning officers in due course.

Any nomination period scheduled during the period covered by the declaration of a public health emergency, i.e. as of March 14, 2020, is cancelled.

Any notice of election that would result in an advance poll or an election being held during the period including notices published before March 14, 2020.

Save for reasons relating to the loss of quorum, it is not necessary to contact and notify the ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Habitation of municipal council vacancies. In addition, under order 2020-003 of March 14, 2020, the section of the AERM providing that the returning officer must notify the Minister of his or her inability to fix a polling day within four months of the notice of the vacancy shall not be applied (AERM, section 339).

The situation regarding the terms and conditions for rescheduling elections, including polling dates, will be reviewed in June. Information will be posted in this Q&A document. Until June 26, 2020, returning officers are not to publish new election notices.

Due to the current health emergency context, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Andrée Laforest, who is in charge of implementing the Act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities, has requested the postponement of election polls and advance polls until June 26, 2020. Until then, returning officers are not to publish new election notices.

The situation regarding the terms and conditions for rescheduling elections, including polling dates, will be reviewed in June. Information will be posted in this Q&A document. 

Under sections 335 and 336 of the AERM, a vacancy may not be filled where the vacancy occurs within 12 months before the day set for the next general election. However, the council may order a by-election to fill it, in particular if there is a concern that quorum might be lost. Under this rule, a position becoming vacant as of November 7, 2020 may remain unfilled. 

Consequently, a position that was vacant or became vacant between March 14, 2020 and November 6, 2020, must be filled by holding a by-election, on the condition that order 2020-003 is no longer in force and subject to any legislative provision to the contrary. The situation regarding the terms and conditions for rescheduling elections, including polling dates, will be reviewed in June. Information will be posted in this Q&A document.

A returning officer who received such correspondence before March 14, 2020, is not bound by the polling date indicated in the correspondence, since that date was established before the exceptional measures became applicable.

The municipality will continue to be administered on a provisional basis by the Commission municipale du Québec until such time as the election procedures enable the filling of the vacancies necessary to attain quorum and the new elected officials are sworn in.

Consultation meetings and referenda

Please note that this section was substantially modified on May 7, 2020 to take into account order 2020-033.

No public meetings required by a legislative or regulatory provision applicable to a municipality or metropolitan community may be held. This is the case, in particular, for meetings scheduled for purposes of development and urban planning.

In fact, order 2020-033 of May 7, 2020 provides that any procedure other than a referendum that is part of the decision-making process of a municipal body and that involves the movement or gathering of citizens must be suspended or replaced. Further details on referendum processes and the process of territorial division into electoral districts are provided below.

It is the council that determines whether the public meeting is suspended or replaced.

Suspension - If its council chooses to suspend the public meeting, the municipality should announce this decision by a public notice of postponement that indicates that a new public notice announcing the meeting will be published once the health emergency is over. In this case, the regulatory adoption process is suspended until further notice. In due course, the ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Habitation will contact municipalities to advise them that normal regulatory adoption processes are being reinstated.

Replacement - If a council wishes to continue the process of passing the act that is the subject of the public meeting, it must replace the public meeting normally provided for in the Act with a 15-day written consultation announced in advance by public notice. Contrary to the situation that has prevailed since March 22 as a result of decree 2020-008, it is no longer necessary for the council to designate the priority project by a two-thirds vote of its members.

The Ministère recommends that this public notice

  • describe the project that was to be the subject of a meeting but is instead the subject of a call for written comments.
  • specify the web address where a detailed presentation of the project is made available online.
  • indicate that any person may submit written comments, by email or regular mail, during a period of 15 days following publication of the notice.

Furthermore, in addition to the written consultation, which is mandatory, a municipality may provide for any other consultation measure that does not involve the movement or gathering of citizens, such as consultation by videoconference.

During a health emergency, a project initially suspended by a municipality could be revived at a later date if public notice was given to announce that the public meeting is being replaced by the written consultation described above.

A municipality whose administrative capacity is limited by the pandemic could suspend some projects and prioritize others. 

Optional meetings

Besides the usually mandatory consultation meetings, municipalities must not hold optional consultations that involve the movement or gathering of citizens (e.g., a public hearing by a municipality's demolition committee). The government is asking municipalities to consult with citizens in other ways (e.g., survey or online consultation, videoconferencing, conference calls) or to suspend processes involving optional consultations.

Public meeting held following the transmission of notices of objection at the stage of the draft by-law dividing the territory into electoral districts

Under the effect of order 2020-033 of May 7, 2020, no municipality may suspend its process of division into electoral districts. In the event that the required number of notices of objection is reached at the draft by-law stage (s. 18, the Act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities [AERM]), the municipality must replace the meeting provided for in the AERM with a 15-day written consultation, announced in advance by public notice. More information is provided below.

Under order 2020-008 of March 22, 2020, any procedure that involved the movement or gathering of citizens that was part of the decision-making process of a municipal body was suspended or replaced. This replacement had to concern projects designated as priorities by a two-thirds vote of council members. In addition, any action taken as a result of such a replacement procedure was not subject to the approval of qualified voters.

These provisions of order 2020-008 of March 22, 2020 were repealed by order 2020-033 of May 7, 2020 (see details in the previous question).

Thus, any municipal initiative designated as a priority by council under these provisions and for which the written consultation replacing a public meeting ended before May 7, 2020 is not subject to referendum approval.

A draft land use planning by-law adopted before May 7, 2020, but for which the 15-day consultation period did not end on May 7, 2020, may therefore be subject to a referendum process if it contains provisions subject to referendum approval. The referendum procedures in effect during a public health emergency are explained below.

Furthermore, when the 15-day written consultation concerns a draft land use planning by-law and is underway on May 7, 2020, it does not have to be cancelled. It can be completed and will be valid since the provisions of the new by-law do not modify the rules applicable to the replacement of a public meeting by a written consultation.

On the other hand, when the written consultation was meant to replace a referendum procedure (e.g., in the case of a borrowing by-law) and is not completed, it may be cancelled, since it is not provided for in the new procedure (the decision to continue it rests with the municipality). A remote referendum procedure (explained below) must then be held unless council suspends the process.

The above applies to a variety of situations. For example, the following draft by-laws are also subject to referendum approval:

  • a draft by-law adopted before March 23, 2020 that has not yet been the subject of a public consultation meeting or written consultation.
  • a draft by-law adopted before March 23, 2020 and for which a consultation meeting has been held according to the ordinary rules of the Act respecting land use planning and development, but for which the second draft by-law has not yet been adopted.
  • a draft by-law that was suspended after March 22, but for which the adoption process has been resumed by council.

When a municipality has adopted a public participation policy in accordance with sections 80.1 to 80.5 of the Act respecting land use planning and development, any consultation or active participation measures prescribed by the policy are suspended or replaced by a written consultation. 

In fact, pursuant to order 2020-033 of May 7, 2020, any procedure other than a referendum that is part of the decision-making process of a municipal body and that involves the movement or gathering of citizens must be suspended, unless council decides to replace it with a 15-day written consultation, announced in advance by public notice.  The indications previously provided for public meetings are applicable.

The Act respecting land use planning and development provides that "any interested person may be heard by the council" when the council must decide on an application for a minor exemption or conditional use. However, council meetings may be held unattended during a public health emergency.

 In addition, pursuant to order order 2020-033 of May 7, 2020, any procedure other than a referendum that is part of the decision-making process of a municipal body and that involves the movement or gathering of citizens must be suspended or replaced. The indications previously provided for public meetings are therefore applicable, unless the municipality is able to guarantee the possibility for citizens to make their voices heard, without any displacement or gathering.

Consequently, the municipality has three options:

  1. Municipalities may defer the authorization of a minor exemption or conditional use application to a subsequent meeting when the health emergency is lifted. The Act does not prescribe a time limit between the submission of a minor exemption or conditional use application and the adoption by council of the resolution granting the exemption or authorizing the use.
  2. They may also replace the possibility of being heard by a written consultation, announced by a 15-day prior public notice. May 7, 2020, it is no longer necessary for council members to determine priority proposals by a two-thirds majority vote.
  3. They may also allow their citizens to remotely attend the council meeting where the application will be processed (e.g., by television or webcast) and allow them to be heard. If the municipality is unable to guarantee that all those wishing to participate are able to do so, it should refrain from using this option (e.g., if not all of its territory is connected to high-speed Internet).

If the municipality determines that it can hold a remote session without infringing on the right of any citizen to be heard, it should

  • indicate, in the public notice announcing the session, the means for remote participation.
  • provide a range of means for citizens to be heard, including via the Internet (e.g., video conferencing, chat, or pre-scheduled email) and through other means for those without Internet access (e.g., telephone or letter).
  • provide for remote citizen interventions to be heard by the public or read as formulated.

This section was substantially modified on May 7, 2020 to take into account order 2020-033.

Pursuant to order 2020-008 of March 22, 2020, no referendum poll could be held as of that date.

However, order 2020-033 of May 7, 2020 amended the applicable rules and it is possible, since that date, for referendum proceedings to be conducted under certain conditions. In particular, during a public health emergency, the process of signing the register is replaced by a remote process, and any referendum must be held by correspondence. Any necessary adaptations must be made to prevent the movement and gathering of citizens.

Land use planning and development

Any municipal initiative that has been identified as a priority by council under the provisions of order  2020-008 and for which written consultation was completed prior to May 7, 2020 is not subject to referendum approval and may be passed by council.

For any other draft by-law, qualified voters may file an application for a referendum and subsequent stages may unfold according to certain specific procedures, explained below.

Referendum applications - Council adopts a second draft by-law after the written consultation when the draft by-law contains provisions that are subject to referendum approval. The municipality then publishes a public notice stating that applications may be submitted.

Afterwards, qualified voters may file an application for a referendum. The transmission of such applications to the municipality does not require travel or gathering. Various methods allow citizens to prepare applications signed by a number of qualified voters without contact. In this regard, the Ministère des Affaires municipales et de l'Habitation invites municipalities to show flexibility and to receive all applications transmitted, whether individually or by petition, in order to avoid the spread of COVID-19.

The number of applications normally required to establish a register, as provided for in the Act respecting land use planning and development, is applicable.

Registration procedure - The procedure for registering qualified voters takes 15 days, and the transmission of written applications to the municipality serves as the register. This measure is intended to prevent people from travelling to sign a register.

Municipalities should follow these guidelines:

  • Municipalities should accept all applications, whether sent by regular mail or email, in web form or in paper version, as long as they include the documents and information required to establish  
    • what by-law the application is in respect of.
    • the identity of the person and his or her right to sign the register. Applications should therefore be accompanied by copies of identity documents.
  • The thresholds for holding a referendum are those currently set out in section 553 of the Act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities.

The Ministère will soon make available a document in which more precise indications will be given as to how to proceed with this remote registration. 

Referendum poll - Unless council suspends or withdraws the draft by-law that has been the subject of a sufficient number of applications, the referendum will be held.

Pursuant to order 2020-033 of May 7, 2020, the vote must be conducted in accordance with the procedures set out in the Regulation respecting voting by mail (chapter E-2.2, r.3), for all qualified voters and without prior formalities. For example, qualified voters residing or not residing on the territory of the municipality shall vote by mail, and it is not necessary for any qualified voter to apply to vote in this manner. In addition, the council does not have to adopt a resolution allowing the exercise of voting by mail.

The duration of the postal vote is usually set according to the "physical" polling day. However, since the referendum is to be held solely by mail, a polling day is set for the sole purpose of enforcing the deadlines for the conduct of the referendum. In order to allow additional time for the exercise of the right to vote under these special conditions, the period for voting by correspondence is extended to the seventh day following the day fixed for voting. Qualified voters will therefore have up to 18 days to transmit their voting envelope.

The Ministère will shortly make available a document with more precise indications on how to proceed with this postal vote. Various adaptations will be proposed to ensure that the exercise unfolds as smoothly as possible.

Borrowing regulations, credit commitments, and the creation of financial reserves

Any municipal initiative that has been designated as a priority by council under the provisions of order 2020-008 and for which the written consultation that replaced the referendum process was completed prior to May 7, 2020 does not require referendum approval. For all other projects, the following applies.

As is normally the case, qualified voters do not have to submit referendum applications for draft borrowing by-laws, loan commitments, or the creation of financial reserves.

For these projects, when the Act provides that they are subject to referendum approval, the municipality will initiate a registration process for qualified voters identical to that described above for draft land use planning and development by-laws. The referendum poll, if applicable, also follows the same steps - it is therefore held by mail-in ballot.

The Ministère will soon make available a document providing more specific guidance on how to proceed with these registration and mail-in ballot processes.

The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing must approve all borrowing by-laws, as is customary.

Municipal territorial organization

The Act respecting municipal territorial organization provides for the possibility of a referendum approval process in certain situations (municipal mergers, change of name, change of status, territorial annexation, attachment to a regional county municipality [RCM], etc.).

However, this process shall occur only if the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing so orders, on the date set by the latter. The Minister could choose to wait until the end of the public health emergency to implement such a referendum process. The process would then be suspended until further notice. The Minister could also choose to order the referendum despite the public health emergency, in which case the vote would be conducted by mail-in ballot.

This answer was substantially modified on May 7, 2020 to take into account order 2020-033.

The Act respecting land use planning and development provides for the effect of the interim control following a notice of motion for various reglements. The Act provides that the control is temporary and varies according to the situation. 

Where proceedings have been suspended under order 2020-008 of March 22, 2020 or order 2020-033 of May 7, 2020, the days included in the period of the health emergency are not taken into account for the purpose of determining the duration of the effect of the interim control.

If, at the end of the public health emergency, there are fewer than 60 days remaining in the effect of the interim control, the latter measure shall be extended to 60 days.  

For example, if there were 15 days remaining in the effect of the interim control when the health emergency was declared on March 13, 2020, the effect of the interim control would continue throughout the health emergency. Once the health emergency is over, 60 days of the effect of the interim control would remain, rather than 15 days.

The Act respecting land use planning and development provides for such a freeze for the following by-laws:

  • zoning by-law
  • subdivision by-law
  • by-law on site planning and architectural integration programs
  • by-law on agreements relating to municipal works
  • regional county municipality by-law on the planting and felling of trees
  • interim control by-law of an RCM or a metropolitan community in an agricultural zone

Territorial division into electoral districts

This answer was substantially modified on May 7, 2020 to take into account order 2020-033.

If the number of citizens provided for in the AERM sends a notice of objection (s. 18), the procedure for adopting the by-law to divide the municipality into electoral districts may involve up to two public meetings: one at the stage of the draft by-law, held by the municipalty (s. 18), and the other at the stage of the publication of the notice of adoption of the by-law , held by the Commission de la représentation électorale (s. 25).

Depending on the various scenarios that may occur, the electoral district division process is as follows:

  • in the event that the required number of notices of objection are not received at the draft by-law stage (s. 18), the process could continue in accordance with the requirements of the AERM, which should allow the deadline for the adoption of the by-law to be met, that is, before June 1, 2020.
  • in the event that the required number of notices of objection is reached at the draft by-law stage (s. 18), the municipality should, according to order 2020-033 of May 7, 2020, replace the public meeting provided for in the AERM with a 15-day written consultation, announced in advance by public notice. A written consultation procedure is suggested by the Ministère below.
  • in the event that the required number of notices of objection is reached at the stage of adoption of the by-law (s. 25), the Commission de la représentation électorale will have to decide on the measures applicable to the holding of a public meeting, in accordance with the guidelines set out with respect to public health measures.

It should be noted that, under order 2020-033 of May 7, 2020, no municipality may suspend its electoral district division process.

In the event that the required number of notices of objection is reached at the draft by-law stage (s. 18), the public meeting will be replaced by a 15-day written consultation announced in advance by public notice. 

The Ministère recommends that this public notice 

  • describe the draft by-law dividing the territory into electoral districts.
  • specify the Web address at which a detailed presentation of the draft by-law will be posted.
  • indicate that any person may submit written comments, by email or regular mail, for 15 days following publication of the notice.

In addition to the mandatory written consultation, a municipality may provide for any other consultation measure that does not involve travel or gathering, such as consultation by videoconference.

The rule allowing the suspension of the electoral district division process was repealed by order 2020-033 of May 7, 2020 and has ceased to have effect. When the required number of notices of objection had been reached at the draft by-law stage (s. 18), the municipality was obliged to replace the public meeting with a 15-day written consultation announced in advance by public notice.

This answer was substantially modified on May 7, 2020 to take into account order 2020-033.

Council may pass such a resolution at a regular council meeting.

It should be noted that the date of adoption of the by-law on division into electoral districts is maintained in accordance with the requirements of the AERM, specifically before June 1, 2020 (s. 21).

This answer was substantially modified on May 7, 2020 to take into account order 2020-033.

This process is ongoing. However, should a sufficient number of electors file a notice of objection, as provided for in section 40.4 of the Act, the municipality would then be required to comply with the applicable electoral district division procedure as a matter of course.

In the event that, during the normal process of division into electoral districts, the required number of notices of objection is reached at the draft by-law stage, the municipality would be required to replace the public meeting provided for in the AERM with a written consultation. However, the deadline set out in the AERM for the adoption of the by-law, which is before June 1, 2020, remains applicable.
 

This answer was substantially modified on May 7, 2020 to take into account order 2020-033.

No public meeting required by a legislative or regulatory provision applicable to a municipality or metropolitan community may be held, including as regards the electoral districts division process. The preceding answers explain how the municipality must replace the public meeting provided for in section 18 of the AERM with a 15-day written consultation, announced in advance by public notice.

Use of voters’ lists

A municipality may use the information on a list of electors in the exercise of its powers, provided that it takes appropriate security measures to ensure the confidentiality of that information.

For example, given its jurisdiction over civil safety and health, a municipality may use the list of electors to communicate with its citizens during a health emergency

  • the directives issued by the government to limit the spread of COVID-19, in the event that these directives appear to be misunderstood.
  • the assistance services established to support vulnerable citizens.

To ensure the confidentiality of personal information on the list of electors, it is strongly suggested that a council resolution determine the persons in the municipality authorized to use the list of electors. In addition, these persons should agree in writing to 

  • take appropriate measures to maintain the confidentiality of the information on the list of electors, for example by
    • avoiding any dissemination by email or on the Internet, and any copying of the list by any means whatsoever.
    • requiring that any printed list be kept in a locked filing cabinet.
  • using this information solely for the purpose of forwarding to citizens
    • government directives to limit the spread of COVID-19, in the event that these directives appear to be misunderstood.
    • the assistance services established to support vulnerable citizens.
  • communicating or allowing the communication of this information only to those persons who have been duly authorized by the council.
  • recording in a register, in accordance with the Act respecting Access to documents held by public bodies and the Protection of personal information (s. 67.3) 
    • that the communicating of personal information is for the benefit of the person concerned.
    • the names of all persons who will have access to the information for the intended use.
  • submitting the list of electors to the municipality's access to information officer at the end of the period during which the health emergency is in effect.

Under normal circumstances, the Chief Electoral Officer will produce the lists of electors required for by-elections or general elections. 

As a result of Order 2020-003, all electoral events that were scheduled to take place up to April 26, 2020 are postponed. For this reason, the Chief Electoral Officer is not required to produce new lists of electors for an electoral event. 

In addition, the Chief Electoral Officer will not produce for the purpose of communicating with citizens any new lists of electors while a health emergency is in effect.

Fonds régions et ruralité (regions and rurality fund)

The government is currently developing assistance measures specifically for Quebec businesses affected by COVID-19 control measures. These assistance measures will be funded with amounts separate from those in the FRR. It is therefore recommended that regional elected officials wait until they are informed of the new government support measures for businesses before determining how they will be able to intervene in a complementary manner, using the amounts made available to them through the FRR.

An RCM must comply with the conditions for using the fund set out in the Agreement respecting the Fonds régions et ruralité, part 2 - support for the local and regional development jurisdiction of RCMs (hereinafter referred to as "the Agreement"). 
An RCM that does not comply with the conditions set out in the Agreement is in default.

In the event of default, the Minister may take various measures listed in clause 71 of the Agreement.

As an example, here are the main conditions that the RCM has committed to respecting:

The RCM may not award a grant to a private firm exceeding 50% of the total eligible expenses of the supported project (clause 30).

The RCM may not use RRF funds to make loans.

Expenses incurred to support a project in the retail or restaurant sector are not eligible, except for local services (clause 29 and Appendix A). The notion of proximity service must be consistent with the rules that the RCM has established on this subject (clause 20.3).

No expenses related to projects already carried out are eligible.

A plan or support measures must be integrated into the RCM's intervention priorities for the current year. If necessary, the RCM may update its priorities by resolution, publish them on its website, and forward them to the Minister (clauses 13.1 and 18 of the Agreement).

The plan or measures must be integrated into the RCM's business support policy and its support policy for structuring projects to improve its communities. If necessary, the RCM may update its policies, publish them on its website, and forward them to the Minister (clauses 13.2 and 20 to 23 of the Agreement).

The ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Habitation's regional branches are available to assist the municipal community with any questions on this subject.