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.

Yes, Order in Council No. 1020-2020 of September 30, 2020 allows any person to be in a residence or on the grounds of a residence for the purpose of selling or renting the residence. This exception is applicable regardless of the alert level of the region concerned. However, public health directives must be respected during such visits.

Municipal services and access to municipal facilities

Please note that the measures in force differ according to the alert level of the region concerned.

Order in Council No. 689-2020 and certain subsequent legislation authorized the resumption of most activities that had been suspended due to COVID-19.

This resumption is conditional on compliance with the applicable public health regulations. Details of some of these services are provided in the paragraphs that follow.

Libraries and museums

For the public health measures with which libraries and museums must comply, please refer to the workplace guide for museum institutions and libraries available in French only: Guide de normes sanitaires en milieu de travail pour les institutions muséales et les bibliothèques. 

In regions with a maximum alert level (red zone), Order in Council No. 020-2020 of September 30, 2020 provides for the suspension of the activities of museums and libraries, with the exception of lending counters. For more information on this subject, you are invited to consult the progressive regional alert and intervention system .

Swimming pools and playgrounds

The municipal swimming pools can be opened to the general public, while respecting the following regulations in effect:

  • Prevent access to people with COVID-19 or showing symptoms similar to those of the disease, or who have been instructed to self-isolate, due to close contact with a case of said disease.
  • Establish measures to restrict access to locker rooms so that two metre distancing between users is respected at all times (for example, floor and bench directions, use of one locker out of two only). 
  • For outdoor swimming pools, place a guard at the entrance to restrict the number of people moving around the site so that two metre distancing is respected at all times, both in and out of the water. 
  • Promote handwashing.
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces (tables, countertops, doorknobs, taps, toilets, showers, bathrooms, locker rooms, telephones, computer accessories, etc.) at least once per work shift.

It should be noted that Order No. 2020-041 only applies to municipal facilities and not to private communal facilities. In the case of communal condominium pools, it is up to the managers and administrators of co-ownerships to determine whether it is possible to allow them to reopen and, if so, what appropriate measures must be put in place to ensure compliance with government directives.

Public facility managers can also activate water fountains in locations where access is authorized. Furthermore, it should be noted that certain public education measures can be implemented by municipalities so that health guidelines are respected.

To assist public facility managers, posters illustrating the five major health instructions are available in a number of languages at the following address: https://publications.msss.gouv.qc.ca/msss/en/document-002470/  This hyperlink will open in a new window.   

Renting and loaning of objects 

  • Pools offering equipment loan or rental should apply the following guidelines:  
    • Avoid renting or loaning objects such as playthings (e.g. balls, pails), training accessories, dorsal balloons, nose clips and goggles, boards, foam toys, and inflatable games, due to the risk of surface contamination  by users who could be infected. In addition, these objects sometimes have porous surfaces, making them harder to clean. Site managers may, however, allow users to bring flotation accessories (floats, dorsal balloons, etc.) for their own personal use.
    • Concerning equipment used by lifeguards, chairs (in particular frequently touched areas thereon), lifebuoys, and rescue tubes should be cleaned between each user (see the following document: COVID-19 : Mesures de prévention concernant les premiers secours et premiers soins (PSPS) en milieu de travail) (COVID-19: prevention measures concerning first-aid in the workplace (in French only)).  

For more information on surface cleaning, please refer to the website of the Institut national de santé publique This hyperlink will open in a new window..  

Day camps

To learn the mandatory public health measures in place in day camps, please consult the following tools:

For more information, please consult the Day camps section under the Questions and answers on education and families during the COVID-19 pandemic

Indoor activities offered to the public

Depending on the alert level in effect within the municipality's jurisdiction, restrictions are applicable to activities organized in a public place, particularly with respect to the number of people who may gather in a rented room or community hall. 

Furthermore, in regions with a maximum alert level (red zone), Order in Council No. 1020-2020 of September 30, 2020 provides for the suspension of activities in theatres and community halls, except for activities organized as part of the mission of a community organization.

For more information on this subject, you are invited to consult the Progressive regional alert and intervention system

As of July 18, 2020, employers whose staff used to work at home may allow their staff to return to the workplace up to a maximum occupancy rate of 25%. Municipalities are also invited to take this guideline into account for the gradual return of their employees. 

Of course, this occupancy rate could be higher if the presence of employees is required to enable the delivery of essential services to the citizens of the municipality. In addition, an occupancy rate higher than 25% could apply in the case of buildings that are able to accommodate a larger number of employees while respecting public health regulations.

It should be noted that telework is still preferable for activities that can be carried out remotely. Furthermore, the municipality must put in place measures to ensure compliance with public health guidelines in the workplace, including respect for the physical distancing rule (two metres) between people and the wearing of face coverings or masks in areas accessible to the public.

Yes, however, municipalities must ensure that public health and governmental regulations are respected. The holding of these activities, even in the open air, should not encourage gatherings, as these remain activities involving a high risk of contamination. For example, municipalities will not provide fireworks viewing sites. Instead, residents should be encouraged to observe fireworks from their private property, in accordance with the rules applicable to gatherings.

In addition, any use of fireworks and pyrotechnics must comply with municipal fire and safety regulations. In such cases, citizens must request permission from their municipality.

Finally, the measures required for the protection of workers involved in the event must be respected. The CNESST guides can be consulted in this regard.

Yes, the measures in effect differ according to the alert level of the region concerned. To find out the applicable rules, you are invited to consult the section of the Québec.ca website that deals with gatherings in the context of COVID-19.

Municipalities can play a role in authorizing outdoor gatherings. They must also consider the level of alert status for the purposes of these authorizations.

Under Order-in-Council No. 817-2020 of August 5, 2020, it is prohibited for anyone to issue a permit or authorization to hold a gathering in a public outdoor location

  • when the capacity of the site where the gathering is held does not allow for a distance of two metres between the individuals participating in the gathering to be maintained. The rule is the same in the case of an event that takes place on more than one site (e.g., a festival), in which case it applies to each of the sites. 
  • in the case of an event that takes place on more than one site, if some sites are contiguous or if the same access or waiting areas are used. 
  • where such a permit or authorization has already been issued to allow another gathering to be held at the same time in that outdoor public place on a contiguous site or for which the same access or waiting area is used. 

Thus, for gatherings to be held on municipal property (park, public parking lot, street, etc.) and for which authorization is required, the municipality should know the capacity of the sites and, if necessary, set a limit respecting the maximum number of people that can gather under the public health regulations in force. It cannot issue an authorization knowing that these regulations cannot be respected. 

In addition, the municipality may set any other conditions for the occupation of its public domain, and it may provide rules concerning revocation of the authorization (Cities and Towns Act, s. 29.19; Municipal Code, s. 14.16.1).

Once the gathering is authorized by the municipality, the organizer is responsible for ensuring that the rules concerning the maximum number of people that can gather are respected and that the capacity of the premises where the gathering is held allows for a distance of two metres between participants to be maintained.

In the event of a violation of the above rules, the stakeholders concerned, including municipalities that have authorized a gathering that is not in compliance with the rules, could be fined between $1,000 and $6,000.

Under Order in Council No. 817-2020 of August 5, 2020, it is possible to hold festivals and events of the same nature, subject to compliance with the public health rules in force, including requirements relating to the number of people admitted to indoor and outdoor gatherings according to the alert level in force

However, it should be remembered that outdoor gatherings are prohibited in the red zone (level 4 – maximum alert), with some exceptions. Concert hall and theatre activities are also suspended in this zone.

See in this regard the explanations provided for the question "What is the role of municipalities in relation to outdoor gatherings?"

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 compliance with the rules on social distancing and the health measures prescribed by public health authorities to prevent the virus from spreading.

A municipality may authorize the use of municipal watercraft launching equipment. However, it 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.

Food production is not an activity under government suspension.

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 This hyperlink will open in a new window. 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, food business operations are not subject to a government suspension; hence, 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.

The municipality may authorize minimal access to washroom facilities (e.g., toilets and sinks) on the sites of sports activities. However, the municipality must ensure increased maintenance of the premises.  It is recommended that the health guidelines in effect be respected. Frequently touched surfaces (e.g. taps, toilets, doorknobs, and dryers) must be cleaned several times per work shift. 

Furthermore, in order to regulate the opening of locations where outdoor activities are practiced, the CNESST has developed  A workplace sanitary standards guide for the Leisure, Sports and Outdoor Recreation Sector – COVID 19 This hyperlink will open in a new window..

Municipalities may make street furniture and fixtures such as benches, water games, play modules, exercise equipment, water fountains, and public washrooms accessible in public places, but this is not a requirement. Each municipality is responsible for making a decision in this regard, based on its ability to implement satisfactory public health measures such as frequent cleaning and disinfection. This openness is conditional on compliance with government instructions concerning physical distancing and hygiene measures.

Municipalities that provide access to street furniture and fixtures should provide an enhanced cleaning procedure for frequently touched surfaces. These surfaces should be cleaned several times a day. The frequency of cleaning and disinfection of washroom facilities should be increased and adjusted according to traffic volumes.

Disinfection of street furniture is a targeted measure that could help reduce the risk of virus transmission. To this end, Health Canada regularly updates an approved list of hard- surface disinfectants This hyperlink will open in a new window.. The Institut national de santé publique (INSPQ) has also published a fact sheet on cleaning and disinfection methods and appropriate protective measures This hyperlink will open in a new window. (available in French only)

Water fountains can be opened and made accessible to the public. However, these fountains must be cleaned and disinfected according to proven methods.

According to the INSPQ fact sheet on the outdoor environment and COVID-19 This hyperlink will open in a new window. (available in French only), the viral concentration on urban furniture and fixtures, including water fountains, is likely to be altered by various factors (temperature, humidity, ultraviolet rays, wind, and precipitation). Municipalities should nevertheless ensure that routine cleaning procedures are maintained. Disinfection of water fountains is a targeted measure that may help reduce the risk of virus transmission.

These recommendations for water fountains are based on the INSPQ fact sheet concerning cleaning and disinfection methods and appropriate protective measures This hyperlink will open in a new window. (available in French only).

  • The virus responsible for COVID-19 can survive for some time (a few hours to several days) on various surfaces but is easily removed by most regular cleaners and disinfectants. 
  • Health Canada regularly updates an approved list of hard-surface disinfectants This hyperlink will open in a new window.. It is important to follow the manufacturer's instructions for the use of these products at all times. A bleach solution or hydrogen peroxide (0.5%) can also be used.
  • All frequently touched surfaces (e.g. push buttons) should be cleaned regularly as follows:
    • Use clean paper or cloth towels for cleaning. As disinfectant is less effective when the surface is soiled, first clean the surface with soap and water to remove all visible debris and stains. 
    • Rinse with clear water and wipe with a clean towel. Apply disinfectant. If the surfaces are already clean, you can apply the disinfectant immediately. Allow the disinfectant solution to work for a few minutes before wiping off any traces of the product with a clean cloth. 
  • In public places, cleaning should be carried out at least daily and if possible even more frequently (every two to four hours).

In addition, it should be noted that public education measures (e.g., signs posted near water fountains) can be put in place by municipalities to ensure compliance with public health regulations, i.e., 

  • Promote respect for physical distancing (e.g., in line-ups near water fountains).
  • Promote hand hygiene measures.
  • Promote the practice of respiratory etiquette:
    • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, use tissues or a folded elbow, and then wash your hands.
    • Use disposable tissues.
    • Discard used tissues immediately in the trash.
    • Use non-contact garbage cans.
    • Avoid touching your mouth or eyes with your hands.

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.

Since the declaration of the public health emergency in March 2020, the applicable measures have changed on several occasions and are likely to change further.The gouvernement du Québec is closely monitoring the situation in conjunction with the authorities concerned. We recommend that you regularly refer to the questions and answers for municipalities in order to learn about the applicable measures. It should be noted that, since the introduction of the Progressive regional alert and intervention system, the rules may vary from one territory to another.

Municipal elected officials must comply with the applicable laws, orders-in-council, directives, and orders 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 an order 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 orders-in-council and ministerial orders issued by 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 No. 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 medical 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.

For more information on face coverings, please refer to the section on the use of masks or face coverings in public places within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic

Effective July 18, 2020, the wearing of a face covering is mandatory in all public places listed in Order in Council No. 810-2020 of July 15, 2020. This includes all locations in which municipal services are offered, along with sites intended for cultural, recreational and sporting activities (e.g. board rooms, libraries, arenas, sports centres, community rooms). It applies only to indoor or partially-indoor portions of these spaces that are accessible to the public, but not to housing units. 

Face coverings are also required in lobbies, reception areas and elevators in all buildings other than apartment buildings. 

It is the responsibility of the municipalities operating the spaces stipulated under Order in Council No. 810-2020 of July 15, 2020 to ensure that face coverings are worn. The municipalities must not tolerate any individual who elects not to wear a face covering, barring the exceptions set out under Order in Council No. 810 2020 (e.g. children under the age of 12 years old or persons with medical conditions that prevent them from wearing face coverings). When municipalities rent rooms or halls, the person in charge of the activity has a responsibility to enforce the same obligation.

For more information on face coverings, please refer to the section on the use of masks or face coverings in public places within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic

Certain exceptions to the requirement to wear face coverings are provided for under Order in Council No. 810-2020 of July 15, for example when participating in sports or physical activities. A person may also remove his or her face covering when seated and maintaining a distance of two metres from all other people, for example at board meetings or public meetings. An exception will also be made for persons consuming food or beverages in any space reserved for food or alcohol consumption. 

For more information on face coverings, please refer to the section on the use of masks or face coverings in public places within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic

With the exception of lobbies, reception areas and elevators in buildings other than housing complexes, the requirement to wear face coverings does not apply to anyone working or practicing their profession in a public place. However, these individuals remain subject to applicable occupational health and safety rules. 

For more information on face coverings, please refer to the section on the use of masks or face coverings in public places within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. You may also consult the information package published by the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail on the measures adopted by employers in the context of COVID-19 This hyperlink will open in a new window..

To ensure consistent enforcement of rules across Quebec, municipalities should avoid regulating the use of face coverings. It should also be noted that municipal orders must not include any discrepancies with government laws or regulations. 

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 website. 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.

Functioning of the municipalities

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

The members of the council may meet physically for the holding of a meeting by respecting public health guidelines, including maintaining a distance of two metres between those present. Order No. 2020-029 of April 26, 2020 also permits a meeting to be held by any means that allows members of council to communicate directly with each other and to vote orally. For example, a municipality could hold a session by videoconference or by telephone.

When one or more Board members choose to adopt any such means of communication to attend a Board meeting that is required by law to be public, the meeting must be publicized, 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 use any of the following means, among others:

  • 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.
  • broadcasting the council meeting on a digital platform or by other means that allow citizens to access it.

It should be noted that the publication of minutes alone, while still required by law, is not sufficient to comply with the obligation, unless the document reproduces the entire proceedings of the council meeting.

Please note that the measures in force differ according to the alert level of the region concerned.

The municipality must provide public access to board meetings, barring any of the following exceptions:

  • The municipality is unable to accept that the public be in attendance while also adhering to the health measures set out in Order in Council No. 689-2020, including the requirement to maintain a distance of two metres between attendees. 
  • All Council members will attend the session via one of the forms of communication allowed under the April 26, 2020 Order No. 2020-029 (e.g. by video conference or phone).

A municipality that refuses all or part of the public for this reason must publicize the meeting, as soon as possible, by any means that makes it possible to learn the content of the discussions among council members and the outcome of their deliberations (e.g., publication of an audio or audiovisual recording, full transcription of the deliberations in a document accessible to the public, broadcasting of the meeting on a digital platform). It should be noted that Order in Council No. 1002-2020 of September 30, 2020 does not set a maximum number of people that can attend municipal council meetings.

Order No. 2020-049 of July 4, 2020 also adds a requirement for a municipality to allow written questions to be submitted to council members at any time prior to the meeting. This requirement applies to any sitting that, by law, must include a question period. Where the presence of the public is permitted, the transmission of written questions is in addition to the oral question period provided for in section 322 of the Cities and Towns Act and section 150 of the Municipal Code of Québec. It is strongly recommended that written questions and the answers provided by council members be recorded in a register accessible to the public.

In regions with a high alert level (red zone), council meetings must be held without the public in attendance. However, the municipality should publicize the meeting as soon as possible by any means that provides information on the content of discussions among council members and the outcome of their deliberations (e.g., by publishing an audio or audio-visual recording, transcribing the entire proceedings into a publicly available document, broadcasting the meeting on a digital platform, etc).

This is an exceptional measure whose application will be temporary. Its purpose is to protect the health of elected officials and those attending council meetings. Municipalities that prohibit public access to the council chambers are strongly encouraged to allow citizens to attend council meetings other than in person (e.g., by video conference or telephone).

It should be noted that these municipalities must also make council meetings public as soon as possible. Municipalities must also allow any person to submit written questions to council members before a meeting convenes.

For elected municipal officials and municipal employees alike, the wearing of a mask or face covering over the nose and mouth is compulsory in the public places listed in Order in Council No. 810-2020 of July 15, 2020.

Unless an exception is made, this obligation applies to places where municipal services are offered, as well as to premises intended for cultural, recreational, or sports activities (e.g., rooms where council meetings are held, libraries, arenas, sports centres, community halls). It applies only to the part of these places that is accessible to the public, insofar as they are closed or partially covered and are not an accommodation unit. Wearing a mask or face covering is also compulsory for access to or movement in an entrance hall, a reception area, or an elevator in a building other than an apartment building. Outside these places, elected municipal officials remain subject to the workplace health standards related to COVID-19 as outlined here in French only: normes sanitaires en milieu de travail liées à la COVID-19 This hyperlink will open in a new window..

During council meetings or public assemblies, elected officials may remove their mask or face covering when seated and when a distance of two metres is maintained with any other person. However, they must put the mask or face covering back on when moving about. It should be noted that the physical distance of 1.5 metres provided for in Order in Council No. 689-2020 of June 25, 2020 only applies to people who are seated, relatively immobile, and listening only or talking very little.

For more information on wearing a mask or face covering, please refer to the section on wearing a mask or face covering in public settings in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic

Under Order in Council No. 810-2020 of July 15, 2020, persons whose particular medical condition prevents them from wearing a mask or face covering, as well as those who are not able to put it on or take it off by themselves, are not subject to the obligation to wear a mask or face covering. It is recommended that such persons avoid, as much as possible, places where they are required to wear them. However, the access of persons who cannot wear a mask or face covering to places where wearing a mask or face covering is compulsory must not be restricted by a third person. If exempted persons frequent places where masks or face coverings are compulsory, they must strictly respect the physical distance of two metres between themselves and others.

Under Order in Council No. 810-2020 of July 15, 2020, it is also possible for a municipal elected official to be exempted from the obligation to wear a mask or face covering for medical reasons. However, the municipality may put measures in place to otherwise encourage his or her participation in council meetings, for example by allowing the person to communicate directly with other council members and to vote by videoconference or telephone. 

Persons suffering from a chronic condition, including cardiovascular disease and lung disease, are not among those exempted from wearing a mask or face covering. Whenever possible, these people should consider using the procedure mask as it offers better protection against the virus.

For more information on wearing a mask or face covering, please refer to the section on wearing a mask or face covering in public settings in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. You can also read the information kit made available by the Commission des normes, de l'équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail on the measures put in place by the employer in the context of COVID-19, as provided in French only here: https://www.cnesst.gouv.qc.ca/salle-de-presse/covid-19/Documents/DC100-2146-Guide-Prevention-Covid19.pdf This hyperlink will open in a new window.

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 order, 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 order, 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 order. 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.

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.

The visiting of property provided for in the Municipal Taxation Act is 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 Ordre'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.

Activities have generally resumed in Québec, with the agreement and cooperation of public health authorities. Although the public health emergency has not been lifted, the administrative tolerance applied up to now for the transmission of financial reports from municipal ended on August 31, 2020.

A reminder letter was sent in September 2020 to all municipal bodies that have not submitted their 2019 financial reports. 

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 offices.

Please note that the measures in force differ according to the alert level of the region concerned.

As of July 6, 2020, the videotaping of public bids was no longer required in order to open them. This social distancing measure, which was adopted in accordance with Order No. 2020-014 of April 2, 2020, was repealed in favour of the opening of public bids before witnesses and other persons, as provided for in municipal legislation. As a result, it is no longer necessary to post a video recording of the opening of bids on the electronic tendering system known as the SEAO.

It should be noted, however, that in circumstances where a large number of people attend an opening of public bids, the municipal body should take the necessary steps to comply with the government's directives in terms of, among other things, the number of people admitted and the social distancing required.

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.

Please note that the measures in force differ according to the alert level of the region concerned.

Yes, the sale of immovables by public auction for non-payment of taxes is now permitted under Order No. 2020-058 of August 17, 2020 for municipalities not covered by a specific prohibition on holding a public auction sale of immovables.

No, but a municipality must set a date for the sale and publish a public notice to announce it. The sale must take place at least 15 days after the notice is published.

The ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Habitation has introduced a preventive tax relief measure for COVID-19 applicable to municipally sponsored defined benefit pension plans. This measure is optional and will apply in the event of actuarial losses for these plans at December 31, 2020. It will allow the tax impact to be spread out over a longer period of time. The measure is explained in documents available in French only at:

https://www.mamh.gouv.qc.ca/finances-et-fiscalite/information-financiere/presentation-de-linformation-financiere/normes-comptables/#c1860 This hyperlink will open in a new window.

By-elections

Any municipality with one or more vacant positions must notify its regional office of the  ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Habitation. 

The rest of the procedures will be depend on the timing of the vacancy and the COVID-19 alert level applicable to the municipality itself:

Municipalities whose council no longer has a quorum or whose mayor's office was vacant on August 7, 2020

Under section 346 of the Act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities (AERM), the Minister ordered a by-election to be held in these municipalities. 

The electoral procedures will therefore continue, subject to the restrictions associated with the COVID-19 alert level applicable to the municipality (see the Q&A section of this document on COVID-19 alert levels). 

Please note that the election is ongoing for municipalities in green, yellow, and orange zones. However, restrictions are applicable as to the number of people admitted to the polling places, and the Protocole sanitaire visant à réduire les risques de propagation de la COVID-19 lors de la tenue de toute élection municipale (health protocol to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 during the conduct of municipal elections (PDF 645 Kb)) must be respected. 

For municipalities located in the red zone, whose election period within the meaning of section 364 AERM is in progress as of October 2, 2020, i.e. the effective date of Order No. 2020-074 of October 2, 2020, no voting, including advance polling, may be held.

Vacancy in councillor position during the period of application of Order No. 2020-003

These municipalities have notified their MAHM regional office of a vacant councillor position.

It should be noted that on September 30, 2020, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing introduced Bill 67, An Act to establish a new development regime for the flood zones of lakes and watercourses, to temporarily grant municipalities powers enabling them to respond to certain needs and to amend various provisions. This bill includes legislative amendments so that vacant councillor positions (without loss of quorum) on municipal councils on or after March 14, 2020 need not be filled by the 2021 general election. Such a measure would have to be adopted by the National Assembly in order to come into force.

Vacancy in the office of mayor or councillor arising after the repeal of  Order No. 2020-003 (from August 7, 2020 to November 6, 2020)

In the event that a vacancy in the office of mayor or councillor occurs on or after August 7, 2020 and the municipality is located in a green, yellow, or orange zone, the returning officer may fix polling day as provided for in the AERM (section 339). See the Q&A section of this document on the holding of a by-election according to COVID-19 alert levels.

It should be noted, however, that on September 30, 2020, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing introduced Bill 67, An Act to establish a new development regime for the flood zones of lakes and watercourses, to temporarily grant municipalities powers enabling them to respond to certain needs and to amend various provisions. This bill includes legislative amendments so that vacant councillor positions (without loss of quorum) on municipal councils on or after March 14, 2020 need not be filled before the 2021 general election. Such a measure would have to be adopted by the National Assembly in order to come into force.

If the territory of the municipality is in a red zone, the returning officer should not set the polling day, as no notice of election can be issued in a red zone.

Since the beginning of the public health emergency, in order to take into account changes in the situation and knowledge concerning COVID-19, different rules have been applied to the holding of a by-election. From March 14, 2020 to August 6, 2020, in accordance with Order No. 2020-003 of March 14, 2020, returning officers were required to cancel election ballots and any advance polls associated with an election ballot.

As of August 7, 2020, pursuant to Order No. 2020-055 of August 6, 2020, elections could be held once again.

Since the adoption of Order in Council No. 1020-2020 of September 30, 2020, this election may be held provided that public health conditions permit it, i.e. when the municipality is covered by measures applicable in green (vigilance), yellow (early warning) or orange (alert) zones.

A municipality located in a red zone whose election period, within the meaning of section 364 of the AERM, is in progress on the day the order establishing measures applicable to this zone comes into force is subject to the following rules: 

  • All advance polls and other elections are postponed.
  • No returning officer of a municipality shall publish a notice of election.

Pursuant to the Order No. 2020-074 of October 2, 2020: 

In the event that the red zone restrictions are lifted before October 29, 2020, the advance poll will be held on November 8, 2020 and November 7 and 9, 2020, as the case may be, according to the number of days that had been announced by the returning officer for the purpose of the notice of election or the notice of polling. The poll will then be fixed accordingly on November 15, 2020. 

  • In such a case, a new notice of election shall be issued by the returning officer as soon as possible and, in municipalities with a population of 20,000 or more, a new reminder card shall be sent to voters.

A returning officer located in a green, yellow, or orange zone may publish a notice of election.

In the case of a municipality located in a red zone, no by-election notice may be published. The situation will be reassessed by October 28, 2020. 
 

For red zone municipalities that held an advance poll prior to the adoption of Order No. 2020-074 of October 2, 2020, this vote remains valid. In the event that red zone restrictions are lifted prior to October 29, 2020, advance poll ballots would be counted beginning at 8:00 p.m. on polling day, November 15, 2020, as set out in section 185 of the AERM.

In the event that red zone restrictions continue to apply in the municipality after October 29, 2020, the November 15, 2020 date cannot be maintained for polling day. Where applicable, directives for affected municipalities will be published in this Q&A document.

In the event that the restrictions associated with a red zone remained applicable to the municipality after October 29, 2020, the November 15, 2020 date cannot be maintained for polling day. Where applicable, directives for the municipalities concerned will be published in this Q&A document.

Any municipality that has issued a notice of election must notify the regional office of the MAMH and the direction régionale de santé publique concerned as soon as possible.

For municipalities located in the green, yellow, and orange zones, as of October 1, 2020 

For municipalities in the red zone, please refer to the COVID-19 alert levels section in this Q&A document.

If, following several vacancies, the council can no longer sit validly because there is no longer a quorum, the municipality must notify its regional office  of the ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Habitation This hyperlink will open in a new window. and the Commission municipale du Québec This hyperlink will open in a new window..

The AERM provides that the council may sit validly as long as a quorum is maintained.

In the event of a loss of quorum, the Commission municipale du Québec may temporarily administer the municipality.

Elections must be held in accordance with public health directives. To facilitate the organization and conduct of elections in the context of a pandemic, all public health directives, recommendations, and new measures have been brought together in a single document, namely the Protocole sanitaire visant à réduire les risques de propagation de la COVID-19 lors de la tenue de toute élection municipale (PDF 1.05 Mb) (health protocol aimed at reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19 during the conduct of municipal elections (PDF 645 Kb)). The health protocol must be applied by everyone concerned, as it is designed to protect electoral personnel, candidates, and voters alike. 

The health protocol establishes the measures applicable to the preparatory activities of the election until the holding of the ballot itself. It also establishes the measures recommended by the Chief Electoral Officer with respect to political financing. In particular, the Chief Electoral Officer oversees the application of chapters XIII and XIV of the Act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities (AERM). For more details on political financing measures, please consult Elections Québec's French language document  Questions et réponses sur la tenue des élections dans le contexte de la pandémie de la maladie à coronavirus (COVID-19) au Québec This hyperlink will open in a new window.  (questions and answers on holding elections in the context of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Québec). 

In addition to this protocol, as of October 1, 2020, for the green, yellow, and orange zones:

  • The number of people allowed to vote is restricted to 50  in green and yellow zone and to 25 in an orange zone. The maximum number of people admitted does not include election staff.
  • There are no restrictions in outdoor lineups. However, the physical distancing rules (two metres) apply, both inside and outside the polling station, including in queues.

The measures in this protocol are of three types: 

  1. Mandatory health instructions
    • This involves integrating the mandatory health instructions established by the ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux (MSSS). 
  2. Recommendations 
    • The recommendations provide an appropriate solution to the electoral procedures foreseen by the AERM to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. For example, the AERM makes it possible, through various rules, to reduce the number of voters per polling division. In this case, the AERM provides discretion for the returning officer to determine the response that he or she considers appropriate to avoid having a large number of voters in the same polling station.
    • To limit the risks of propagation of COVID-19, the returning officer is invited to implement the recommendations of the Protocol. In the event of a COVID-19 outbreak, the MSSS could investigate to determine whether the recommendations of this Protocol have been implemented.
  3. The measures introduced by Order-in-Council No. 2020-060 of August 28, 2020
    • On August 28, 2020, Order-in-Council No. 2020-060 was issued by the MSSS to establish certain rules specifically applicable to the current pandemic situation or to adapt the rules set out in the AERM. The measures introduced by Order-in-Council No. 2020-060 concern in particular the following points:
      1. Abolishing the mobile polling station and replacing it with mail-in voting for voters residing in a private residence for seniors, a hospital centre, a residential or long-term care centre (CHSLD), a rehabilitation centre, or a reception centre covered by the AERM;
      2. In order to limit the spread of COVID-19, voting by mail-in ballot is also offered to persons whose isolation is ordered or recommended by public health authorities:
        1. persons returning from a trip abroad for less than 14 days,
        2. persons who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and are still considered  carriers of the disease, 
        3. persons who are symptomatic of COVID-19, 
        4. persons who have been in contact with a suspected, probable, or confirmed case of COVID-19 for less than 14 days, 
        5. persons awaiting a COVID-19 test result;
      • In municipalities and boroughs with a population of 50,000 or more for the post of mayor, the establishment of a ceiling of 50 supporting signatures for the declaration of candidacy and the application for authorization, where applicable.
    • The possibility of holding three days of advance polls instead of two, on the 8th day before polling day (Day 8).
    • Extending the hours of operation of advance polling stations from 9:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. instead of 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
    • Permission for voters to bring their own pencil to vote. 

Through the application of the health instructions prescribed by the Direction générale de la santé publique, the health protocol provides for a number of measures aimed at ensuring the protection of electoral staff, both during their recruitment and training and in the course of providing their services (see measures 1.1 to 1.3 of the Protocol). 

To these ends, when the physical distancing rule (2 metres) cannot be respected, the returning officer must provide for the installation of physical barriers (transparent Plexiglas-type partitions); provide procedural masks and eye protection (goggles or visors covering the face up to the chin) to electoral staff members; and comply with the Workplace Guide to Sanitary Standards – COVID-19 This hyperlink will open in a new window. of the Commission des normes, de l'équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST). The returning officer must also provide for the acquisition of gloves for the counting of ballots. It should be noted that election officials may not wear face coverings. Unlike the procedural mask, which is approved for medical use, a face covering can be a makeshift, handcrafted mask that is not certified by government authorities prior to use.  

The returning officer must ensure that the applicable health standards are met when designating and setting up polling stations (see measure 1.10 of the Protocol). In order to limit voter gatherings during peak traffic periods, the Protocol recommends, among other things, that the returning officer establish several polling stations for each polling division, limit the grouping of polling stations in the same premises, provide ample polling station space, and hold advance polls over more than one day (see measures 1.4, 1.5, 1.11 and 1.12 of the Protocol). In addition, the hours of operation of the advance polling station will be extended, from 9:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

The returning officer must also ensure the safe handling of forms and ballots, including hand washing for staff and hygiene measures for tools, equipment, and frequently touched surfaces. 

The returning officer must purchase hand sanitizer, which will be made available to candidates, representatives, list raisers, and voters. In this regard, the returning officer must provide mandatory disinfection stations for voters (see measure 1.19 of the Protocol).

Furthermore, by the adoption of Order in Council No. 2020-060, mail-in voting replaces all mobile polling stations. This voting method is therefore available to voters residing in a private residence for seniors, a hospital centre, a residential or long-term care centre (CHSLD), a rehabilitation centre, or a reception centre covered by the AERM. Mail-in voting is also offered to persons whose isolation is ordered or recommended by the public health authorities (see the section on mail-in voting in this Questions and Answers document).

The returning officer is invited to include further information on the public notice of the ballot and the reminder card concerning the requirement for face covering and the possibility for voters to bring a pencil to mark their ballot paper (see measure 1.9 of the Protocol).

Finally, the returning officer is invited to allow the poll clerk to draw up a list of voters who have exercised their right to vote and to limit by written agreement the number of people seated at the voting tables (see measure 1.17 of the Protocol).

A number of measures in the health protocol have an impact on how to run for office. For example, in order to limit non-essential interactions, the returning officer is encouraged to leave self-serve nomination forms outside the office for aspiring candidates. The returning officer is also encouraged to provide remote support to answer questions from those seeking nomination, for example, by telephone or videoconference (see measure 1.6 of the Protocol).

For the collection of signatures of support required for the nomination paper, the returning officer is invited to remind the candidate of the health requirements for the collection of signatures, in particular by providing the candidate with a checklist to ensure that the health requirements are met when collecting signatures (see measure 1.7 of the Protocol to establish the items on the checklist). 

In order to limit gatherings at the office of the returning officer or his or her deputy designated to receive nomination papers, the returning officer is invited to make an appointment with any person wishing to file his or her nomination paper during the period set aside for this purpose (e.g., from August 21, 2020 to September 4, 2020 for an election to be held on October 4, 2020). Filing the nomination paper by appointment ensures the safe completion of the nomination process by allowing for the application of strict sanitary procedures (see measure 1.6 of the Protocol for a list of these procedures, e.g., making hand disinfectant available to the candidate, the election officer wearing the procedural mask and eye protection, disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and all equipment before and after each appointment). 

It should be noted that the AERM allows a designated person to file the nomination paper on behalf of the candidate. In such a case, the candidate will have completed the nomination paper, but it will be filed by a third party designated by the candidate. This is recommended for persons 70 years of age or older, persons with chronic diseases and those with weakened immune systems, and any person undergoing a period of voluntary or compulsory isolation (see measure 1.8 of the Protocol).

Finally, on polling day or advance polling day, if a candidate, his or her representative, or a scrutineer is present at the voting table, he or she must comply with the same health instructions as those applicable to the election officers, particularly those concerning the wearing of procedural masks and eye protection. In addition, the returning officer is invited to limit, by written agreement, the number of persons present at the voting tables, as these persons are counted against the maximum capacity of the polling place (see measure 1.7 of the Protocol). 

For any questions relating to political financing, please refer to the Elections Québec page entitled Questions and answers concerning the municipalities during the COVID-19 pandemic This hyperlink will open in a new window. (available in French only).

The returning officer must enforce the public health standards applicable in closed public places, such as the capacity of the polling place and the rules on physical distancing  see measure 1.10 of the Protocol). If the capacity of the polling place is reached (according to the standards prescribed for the COVID-19 alert level applicable to the municipality), voters must line up outside, maintaining a physical distance of two metres. 

Inside the polling station, voters must disinfect their hands at certain strategic points indicated, for example at the entrance to the polling station, when removing their face cover for identification, and after placing their ballot in the ballot box (see measure 1.19 of the Protocol).

In addition, the returning officer should take all necessary steps to ensure that hygiene measures are maintained in polling stations, including with respect to tools, equipment, and frequently touched surfaces (e.g., the cubicle behind the polling booth).

Voters will be able to vote on advance polling day(s) from 9:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

As in other enclosed public places, the wearing of a face covering will be mandatory at the polling place, except when the person is required to establish his or her identity at the polling station or at the voter identity verification table where the voter presents himself or herself with his or her face uncovered (see measure 1.16 of the Protocol).

In the event that a voter with a visual disability uses a voting template, the returning officer is encouraged to ensure that the template is disinfected each time it is used, or to provide a single-use template (see measure 1.20 of the Protocol).

Furthermore, in order to limit the handling of the same pencil by multiple voters and election officials, Order No. 2020-060 allows voters to bring their own pencil. In order to prevent the voter's identity from being ascertained, the returning officer is invited to recommend to voters the use of a black or blue pen or a lead pencil. Additional pencils will also be available at the voting table and must be disinfected before being reused.

The returning officer is encouraged to disseminate the results of the vote count in a manner that respects the capacity of the location where the tabulation is taking place (e.g., videoconferencing, rapid publication of results on the municipality's website, etc.) (See measure 1.23 of the Protocol).

As long as the Health Protocol to Reduce the Risk of Spreading COVID-19 during any Municipal Election is in force, it must be applied by any person concerned, regardless of the size of the municipality and the situation of COVID-19 in Québec. 

For any question regarding the application of this protocol, the returning officer is invited to contact the Service des scrutins municipaux of Élections Québec at the following numbers: 581- 628-8138 or 1-888-478-5923. With regard to political financing, the persons concerned are invited to contact a political financing coordinator by email at financement-municipal@electionsquebec.qc.ca, or at the following telephone numbers: from Québec City, 418-528-0422; from outside Québec City, toll-free at 1-888-ELECTION (1-888-353-2846). For questions related to authorization, please contact the team at the Registre des entités politiques autorisées du Québec (REPAQ) by email at repaq@electionsquebec.qc.ca or by telephone at 418-528-0422 or toll-free at 1 888-ELECTION (1-888-353-2846).

In order to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading during any by-election, the eligibility to vote by mail was extended by Order No. 2020-060 of August 28, 2020. 

Order No. 2020-060 provides that mail-in voting will replace any mobile polling station (MPS) and that it is offered to any voter who would have been eligible for the MPS, even if he or she is able to move around. Thus, upon request, any voter residing in a private residence for seniors, a hospital centre, a residential and long-term care centre (CHSLD), a rehabilitation centre, or a reception centre normally eligible for the MPS under the Act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities (AERM) will be able to vote by mail.

Eligibility to vote by mail will also be extended to voters whose isolation is ordered or recommended by the public health authorities, i.e. any voter who, during the period of registration to vote by mail:

  • has returned from a trip abroad within the last 14 days. 
  • has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and is still considered a carrier of the disease.
  • has symptoms of COVID-19.
  • has been in contact with a suspected, probable, or confirmed case of COVID-19 within the last 14 days.
  • is awaiting a test result for COVID-19.

It should be noted that the application to vote by mail filed by voters covered by Order No. 2020-060 is valid only for the purposes of the election for which it is filed.

A Guide d’application du vote par correspondance dans le contexte de l’arrêté 2020-060 du 28 août 2020 (PDF 1.17 Mb) (guide to the application of mail-in voting in the context of Order No. 2020-060 of August 28, 2020, available in French only) has been developed to present the procedures recommended by the ministère des Affaires municipales et de l'Habitation for the holding of mail-in voting to replace the MPS and for persons whose isolation is ordered or recommended by the public health authorities. It should be noted that mail-in voting will continue in accordance with the procedures set out in this guide when a municipality whose election period within the meaning of section 364 of the AERM is in progress is located in a red zone.

No. Unlike regular mail-in voting for non-resident voters, no resolution should be passed to offer mail-in voting to voters who would have been eligible for the MPS, even if they are able to move around, and to those whose isolation is ordered or recommended by public health authorities. All electing municipalities are required to offer such mail-in voting under Order No. 2020-060 of August 28, 2020.

The resumption of elections must be done in accordance with health regulations while ensuring the protection of voters and election workers. The extension of mail-in voting to certain categories of people aims to

  • avoid movement to polling places of persons considered to be at greater risk of spreading COVID-19.
  • avoid movement of election workers to shelters and health facilities where mobile polling stations are normally located, to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, while guaranteeing the right to vote of voters residing there.

No, only voters normally eligible for the MPS, even if they can travel, and those whose isolation is ordered or recommended by public health authorities can benefit from the extension mail-in voting.

To ensure the protection of voters and election workers during the by-elections, the ministère des Affaires municipales et de l'Habitation (MAMH) and Élections Québec (ÉQ) collaborated with the ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux (MSSS) to establish a Health protocol to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19 during the conduct of municipal election (PDF 645 Kb) (Protocole sanitaire visant à réduire les risques de propagation de la COVID-19 lors de la tenue de toute élection municipale (PDF 1.05 Mb)). The measures in this protocol are designed to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19 during municipal elections (see the Health Protocol section of this document Q&A).

Electoral procedures differ with respect to:

  • regular mail-in voting for non-domiciled voters.
  • procedures under Order No. 2020-060 for voters who would have been eligible for the MPS, even if they are able to move around, and for voters whose isolation is ordered or recommended by public health authorities.

Regular mail-in voting is carried out in accordance with the terms and conditions set out in the mail-in voting order  (Règlement sur le vote par correspondence), which is not adapted under Order No. 2020-060. Where the municipality has adopted a resolution introducing mail-in voting for non-domiciled voters pursuant to section 659.4 of the AERM, it must combine the holding of two mail-in votes: the regular vote applicable to non-domiciled voters and the mail-in vote applicable under Order No. 2020-060 of August 28, 2020.

The mail-in vote held pursuant to Order No. 2020-060 shall be conducted in accordance with the adaptations provided for in Order No. 2020-060, which are explained in the Guide d’application du vote par correspondance dans le contexte de l’arrêté 2020-060 du 28 août 2020 (PDF 1.17 Mb) (guide to the application of mail-in voting in the context of Order No. 2020-060 of August 28, 2020).  

It should be noted that, in the absence of an adaptation by an order, the usual rules set out in the  Règlement sur le vote par correspondence (Regulation respecting mail-in voting)  and in the AERM apply. (This guide is available in French only).

Where a non-domiciled voter falls within the scope of Order No. 2020-060, i.e., for non-domiciled sole proprietors or occupants and designated non-domiciled co-owners or co-occupants whose isolation is ordered or recommended by public health authorities (e.g., the owner of a secondary residence returning from a trip abroad), the adaptations to mail-in voting set out in the order apply to that voter.

For any question about mail-in voting, the voter is asked to contact the returning officer of his or her municipality. The returning officer is invited to consult the Guide d'application du vote par correspondance dans le contexte de l'arrêté 2020-060 du 28 août 2020 (PDF 1.17 Mb) (guide to the application of mail-in voting in the context of Order No. 2020-060 of August 28, 2020, available in French only).  

They may also contact the Service des scrutins municipaux of Élections Québec at the following numbers: 

581-628-8138 or 1-888-478-5923.

Consultation meetings and referenda

Please note that the measures in force differ according to the alert level of the region concerned.

Since July 6, municipal bodies may hold public meetings, in compliance with public health measures to combat the spread of COVID-19. 

To guarantee the right of any interested person to be heard in the context of the pandemic, however, any public meeting must be accompanied by a written consultation. This written consultation must be announced by public notice, ideally the same notice that announces the meeting, and the receipt of comments lasts until the meeting is adjourned. 

It is also possible to dispense with a public meeting and replace it with a 15-day written consultation. In this case, the procedure must also be announced in advance by public notice.

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 at which a detailed presentation of the project is to be posted or any other means by which this detailed presentation can be accessed.
  • indicate that any person may submit written comments, by email or regular mail, for 15 days following publication of the notice.

In addition, as is the case in normal times, a municipality may consult its citizens by additional means if it so wishes (e.g., by videoconference).

Lastly, consultation assemblies are prohibited in red zones (level 4 – maximum alert). In fact, under Order No. 2020-074 of October 2, 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 replaced by a written consultation. This will be announced in advance by public notice and will last at least 15 days, taking into account the elapsed part of a written consultation in progress at the time that Order No. 2020-074 came into force.

Under the first paragraph of Order No. 2020-033 of May 7, 2020, any procedure other than a referendum that was part of the decision-making process of a municipal body and that involved the movement or gathering of citizens had to be suspended or replaced.

This provision is repealed pursuant to Order No. 2020-049 of July 4, 2020. As a result, all procedures previously suspended cease to be suspended and, where applicable, the deadlines set out in the Act begin to apply again as of July 4.

Pursuant to Order No. 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 No. 2020-008 of March 22, 2020 were repealed pursuant to Order No. 2020-033 of May 7, 2020.

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 order 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.

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

  • a draft order adopted before March 23, 2020 that has not yet been the subject of a public consultation meeting or written consultation.
  • a draft order 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 order has not yet been adopted. 
  • a draft order that was suspended after March 22, but for which the adoption process has been resumed by council.

Please note that the measures in force differ according to the alert level of the region concerned.

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 any consultation or active participation measures prescribed by the policy may be carried out in accordance with public health measures to control the spread of COVID-19, if a written consultation period is provided. In fact, under Order No. 2020-049 of July 4, 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 accompanied by a written consultation, announced in advance by public notice, which ends at the same time as the procedure it accompanies. It also remains possible to replace all consultation and active participation measures by a 15-day written consultation.  

The indications previously provided for public meetings are applicable.In particular, in the red zone, any procedure, other than a referendum, which is part of the decision-making process of a municipal body and which involves the movement or gathering of citizens must be replaced by a 15-day written consultation, announced in advance by public notice.

Please note that the measures in force differ according to the alert level of the region concerned.

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. 

Unless the municipality denies public access to council meetings for public health reasons, council should be able to hear interested persons before deciding on a minor variance or conditional use application.  

However, under Order No. 2020-049, a municipality that intends to rule on such an application must also hold a written consultation on the application. This consultation must be announced in the public notice concerning the holding of the meeting at which the application will be studied (145.6 and 145.33 of the Act respecting land use planning and development). The receipt of comments lasts until council makes a decision on the application.

Since, under the Act, public notices of a minor exemption or conditional use application must be published at least 15 days before the council meeting, there is no distinction between a written consultation accompanying the regular procedure and a written consultation replacing the regular procedure.

Under Order No. 2020-049, it is therefore possible to hold a written consultation in lieu of the regular procedure and, consequently, not to hear interested persons at the council meeting. 

However, the Ministère recommends that municipalities not replace the regular process and allow interested persons to be heard at the council meeting, either in person or by various means of communication (telephone, video-conference, chat, email).

Special rules apply in red zones (level 4 – maximum alert). Under Order No. 2020-074 of 2 October 2020, municipal council meetings must be held without the presence of the public in red-zone municipalities. In this case, the opportunity for citizens to be heard on a request for a minor exemption or conditional use must be replaced by a 15-day written consultation announced by public notice. The measures in effect in the red zone are described herein.

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

However, Order No. 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 referendum application process and any referendum poll 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 No. 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 order, 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 order after the written consultation when the draft order 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.

This step should not be confused with the period for receiving written applications for referendum polling, which replaces the register (see next section).

Registration procedure -  The procedure for registering qualified voters is replaced by a 15-day period for receiving written applications for referendum polling. This measure is intended to prevent people from having to travel to sign a register.

This measure is intended to prevent people from travelling to sign a register.

The provisions of the Act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities (AERM) and its regulations remain applicable to this procedure, with the necessary adaptations to avoid travel and gatherings of citizens.

Municipalities should follow these guidelines:

  • Municipalities should  receive 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  
  • 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 is making available (in French only) a guide to the application procedure for a referendum vote replacing the registration procedure for qualified voters This hyperlink will open in a new window. (QV), as well as templates that take into account order 2020-033 for 

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 No. 2020-033 of May 7, 2020, the vote must be conducted entirely 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 mail-in voting  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 provisions of the Act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities (AERM) and its regulations remain applicable to this procedure, with the necessary adaptations to avoid travel and gatherings of citizens.

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 No. 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 applications to open a register for draft borrowing orders, 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 written application procedure for a referendum poll to replace the register, as described above for draft land use planning and development orders. The referendum poll, if applicable, also follows the same steps - it is therefore held by mail-in ballot.

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

The application guide for the referendum application procedure (guide d’application de la procédure de demande de scrutin référendaire This hyperlink will open in a new window. (available in French only)) and the templates provided above, in the section on land use planning and development, may be useful for these processes.

The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing must approve all borrowing orders, 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 No. 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 No. 2020-008 of March 22, 2020 or Order No. 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

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 hold the public meeting provided for in the AERM in conjunction with a written consultation or replace the meeting with a 15-day written consultation, announced in advance by public notice (Order No. 2020-049 of July 4, 2020). For municipalities located in a region with a maximum alert level (red zone), the public assembly must be replaced by a written consultation. 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 No. 2020-033 of May 7, 2020, no municipality may suspend its electoral district division process.

In the event that the municipality chooses to replace the public meeting with a 15-day written consultation, the Ministère recommends that the public notice announcing this consultation:

  • 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 No. 2020-033 of May 7, 2020 and has ceased to have effect. When the required number of notices of objection has been reached at the draft by-law stage (s. 18), the municipality is obliged to hold the public meeting in conjunction with a written consultation or to replace the public meeting with a 15-day written consultation, announced in advance by public notice.

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 process is ongoing. However, should a sufficient number of voters 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 could 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.

The preceding replies explain how the municipality must hold the public meeting provided for in section 18 of the AERM or replace it 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 voters 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 voters 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 voters, it is strongly suggested that a council resolution determine the persons in the municipality authorized to use the list of voters. In addition, these persons should agree in writing to 

  • take appropriate measures to maintain the confidentiality of the information on the list of voters, 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 voters 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 voters required for by-elections or general elections. 

As a result of Order No. 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 voters for an electoral event. 

In addition, the Chief Electoral Officer will not produce for the purpose of communicating with citizens any new lists of voters 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 regional offices of the ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Habitation are available to assist the municipal community with any questions on this subject.