General questions

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

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

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

Priority services

Decree 223-2020, which suspended certain workplace activities and established the list of priority activities, was repealed by decree 689-2020. Municipalities are now authorized to gradually resume all of their activities, in compliance with the applicable public health regulations.

Gradual resumption of activities

Decree 689-2020 authorizes the resumption of most of the activities that were suspended due to COVID-19, with the exception of 

•    any festival or similar event.
•    regular summer camps with a stay. 

This resumption is conditional on compliance with the applicable public health regulations. Specific directives have been issued concerning the resumption of individual and team physical and sports activities, both indoors and outdoors.

Details of some of these services are provided in the paragraphs that follow.

Libraries and museums

The public libraries and museum institutions have been allowed to open throughout Québec. This opening now includes access to shelves and common areas. 

To learn the health measures with which these facilities will have to comply, please consult the Health standards workplace guide for museum institutions and libraries This hyperlink will open in a new window..

Swimming pools and playgrounds

Since May 30, the opening of public outdoor swimming pools, public outdoor wading pools, their washroom facilities, as well as playgrounds located in public parks is permitted. Public facility managers are also invited to activate drinking fountains at sites where access is authorized. This opening is conditional upon compliance with government regulations regarding physical distancing and hygiene measures. (See the next question.)

Day camps

As of June 22, 2020, the summer opening of day camps is authorized throughout Québec. Municipalities can make all their premises accessible to facilitate this purpose.

Municipalities and organizations tasked with operating day camps will, however, have to organize activities in compliance with the distancing rule and ensure enforcement of stringent hygiene measures.

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

For more information, please consult the Gradual resumption of activities under the COVID-19-related pause section

Indoor activities offered to the public

Municipalities may resume indoor activities offered to the public and allow access to their various facilities (e.g., sports facilities, community centres).

However, a maximum of 50 people may congregate in any room rented to any person, institution, business, or organization, including rooms that are part of a community centre, arena, or gymnasium. This maximum applies to each of the halls and sports facilities in a building, and not to the building as a whole.

The municipal swimming pools and wading pools and municipal outdoor playgrounds, including school playgrounds, as well as water play areas and skate-parks, 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 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, namely

  • Promotion of compliance with physical distancing (for example, in lineups near water fountains).
  • Promotion of hand hygiene measures.
  • Promotion of proper cough and sneeze etiquette:
    • Covering mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, using tissues or a folded elbow, and then washing hands.
    • Using disposable tissues.
    • Discarding used tissues immediately in the trash.
    • Using non-contact trash bins.
    • Washing hands with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds (use  of alcohol-based hand sanitizer if no access to soap and water).
    • Avoiding touching mouth or eyes with hands.
  • Promotion of face coverings, especially when physical distancing is impossible. Face coverings may be used at swimming facilities but not as a substitute for government-recommended physical distancing and hand washing guidelines. In addition, a face covering should not be worn in water as it is less effective when wet and may interfere with breathing. 

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.

Furthermore, municipalities must ensure that standard cleaning procedures are maintained. Disinfection of water fountains is a targeted measure which may help diminish the risk of virus transmission.

  • The COVID-19 virus  can survive for some time  (a few hours to several days) on different surfaces but is easily eliminated by most regular cleaning and disinfecting products. 
  • Health Canada regularly updates an approved list of disinfection products for hard surfaces. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions when using these products. A bleach solution or hydrogen peroxide (0.5%) may also be used.
  • All frequently touched surfaces (e.g. pushbuttons) must be cleaned several  times per work shift. 

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.

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..

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.

Municipalities or citizens who wish to use fireworks must put in place the necessary measures to ensure that a minimum distance of two metres is maintained between each person, except in the case of persons living in the same private residence. 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.

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

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

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

Other measures are not ruled out. The Gouvernement du Québec is closely monitoring the situation in conjunction with the authorities concerned. We recommend that you regularly refer to the questions and answers for municipalities in order to learn about the applicable measures.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Municipalities should avoid purchasing N95 masks and other similar 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

International references

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

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

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

Access to a municipality’s amenities

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

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, permanent or seasonal public markets can maintain their direct sales to consumers. By authorizing these activities, municipalities are strategically contributing to food self-sufficiency and the consumption of local products.

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

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

Functioning of the municipalities

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

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 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.

Where a municipality chooses to use such a means of communication for a council meeting that is required by law to be held in 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.

This section was substantially amended on July 6, 2020 to take into account decree 689-2020 of June 25, 2020 and order 2020-049 of July 4, 2020.

Order 2020-049 of July 4, 2020 substantially amended the provisions governing public attendance at council meetings. The new rules apply, in particular, to meetings and assemblies of any municipal body, including metropolitan communities, inter-municipal boards, public transit corporations, and the Kativik Regional Government. However, they do not apply to public meetings that are part of the decision-making process of a municipal body (see the section concerning public meetings).

Under order 2020-049 of July 4, 2020, the municipality must henceforth allow the public to attend council meetings, unless it is unable to do so while complying with the public health measures set out in decree 689 2020, including the requirement to maintain a distance of two metres between attendees. 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).

Order 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.

This section was substantially amended on July 6, 2020 to take into account decree 689-2020 of June 25, 2020 and order 2020-049 of July 4, 2020.

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 or restrict 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Activities are gradually resuming 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 bodies will end on August 31, 2020.

Beginning in September 2020, a reminder letter will be sent 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 branches.

It is up to each municipality to adopt the measures it deems appropriate for its personnel management situation, particularly with respect to maintaining employment relationships, in compliance with laws and collective agreements, the latter being subject to adjustments made in agreement with associations and trade unions. 

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

A municipality could, among other things, give preference to  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As of July 6, 2020, it will no longer be required, as part of the opening of public bids, to videotape them. This social distancing measure, which was adopted by order 2020-014 of April 2, 2020, is 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 directions in terms of, among other things, the number of people admitted and the social distancing required.

By-elections

Effective March 14, 2020, all elections and any advance poll linked to election proceedings have been cancelled for the period during which the public health emergency under the effect of order 2020-003, renewed by subsequent orders, has been declared.

Effective June 25, 2020, under the effect of order 689-2020, a number of public gatherings are allowed by public health authorities. In these circumstances, in order to promote municipal democracy, it is provided that polling cancelled during the public health emergency and all by-elections to fill a vacancy on or after March 14, 2020 may be resumed or held in the fall of 2020. To this end, the polling day would be set by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Andrée Laforest, in accordance with section 346 of the Act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities (AERM). For this reason, and in accordance with order 2020-003 of March 14, 2020, returning officers must not set the polling day or publish new notices of election.

By August 7, 2020, health situation permitting and if duly authorized by Santé publique, the minister will set the polling day

  • Of any poll that must be held again. 
  • Of by-elections that must be held.

Information will be published on this subject in this “questions and answers” document.

In order to continue to protect the population, certain measures must be kept in place. This is why the ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Habitation (MAMH) invites returning officers to plan for adaptations of election procedures so that by-elections can be held safely during fall 2020. Recommendations will be provided to this effect in this “questions and answers” document in August 2020. These will take into account Santé publique directives and the Workplace Sanitary Standards Guide – COVID 19 This hyperlink will open in a new window. published by the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité au travail. 

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

Effective June 25, 2020, under the effect of order 689-2020, a number of public gatherings are allowed by public health authorities. In these circumstances, in order to promote municipal democracy, it is provided that polling cancelled during the public health emergency and all by-elections to fill a vacancy on or after March 14, 2020 may be resumed or held in the fall of 2020. To this end, the polling day would be set by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Andrée Laforest, in accordance with section 346 of the Act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities (AERM). For this reason, and in accordance with order 2020-003 of March 14, 2020, returning officers must not set the polling day or publish new notices of election.

By August 7, 2020, health situation permitting and if duly authorized by Santé publique, the minister will set the polling day

  • Of any poll that must be held again. 
  • Of by-elections that must be held.

Information will be published on this subject in this “questions and answers” document.

Advance polls that have already been held are cancelled

The Minister recommends that returning officers adapt section 658.1 of the AERM. Accordingly, the clerk or secretary-treasurer is asked to destroy, within 30 days after the polling day of the next general election, all documents relating to advance polls referred to in order number 2020-003 of the Minister of Health and Social Services, including any proceeding provided for in Chapter VI of Title I or in Chapters III to VI of Title II. 

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

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

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

On June 16, 2020, Elections Québec provided treasurers with information concerning a series of transitional measures to make certain provisions of the AERM relating to political financing applicable. If you have any questions about this subject, please contact Élections Québec.

Effective June 25, 2020, under the effect of order 689-2020, a number of public gatherings are allowed by public health authorities. In these circumstances, in order to promote municipal democracy, it is provided that polling cancelled during the public health emergency and all by-elections to fill a vacancy on or after March 14, 2020 may be resumed or held in the fall of 2020. To this end, the polling day would be set by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Andrée Laforest, in accordance with section 346 of the Act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities (AERM). For this reason, and in accordance with order 2020-003 of March 14, 2020, returning officers must not set the polling day or publish new notices of election.

By August 7, 2020, health situation permitting and if duly authorized by Santé publique, the minister will set the polling day

  • Of any poll that must be held again. 
  • Of by-elections that must be held.

Information will be published on this subject in this “questions and answers” document.

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

Consequently, a position that was vacant or became vacant between March 14, 2020 and November 6, 2020, must be filled by holding a by-election, on the condition that order 2020-003 is no longer in force and subject to any legislative provision to the contrary. Effective June 25, 2020, under the effect of order 689-2020, a number of public gatherings are allowed by public health authorities. In these circumstances, in order to promote municipal democracy, it is provided that polling cancelled during the public health emergency and all by-elections to fill a vacancy on or after March 14, 2020 may be resumed or held in the fall of 2020. To this end, the polling day would be set by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Andrée Laforest, in accordance with section 346 of the Act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities (AERM). For this reason, and in accordance with order 2020-003 of March 14, 2020, returning officers must not set the polling day or publish new notices of election. 

By August 7, 2020, health situation permitting and if duly authorized by Santé publique, the minister will set the polling day

  • Of any poll that must be held again. 
  • Of by-elections that must be held.

Information will be published on this subject in this “questions and answers” document.

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

Consultation meetings and referenda

Please note that section was substantially modified on July 6, 2020 to take into account order 2020-049 of July 4, 2020, which repeals the first paragraph of order 2020-033 of May 7, 2020.

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).

Please note that section was substantially modified on July 6, 2020 to take into account order 2020-049 of July 4, 2020, which repeals the first paragraph of order 2020-033 of May 7, 2020.

Under the first paragraph of order 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 by order 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.

Please note that section was substantially modified on July 6, 2020 to take into account order 2020-049 of July 4, 2020, which repeals the first paragraph of order 2020-033 of May 7, 2020.

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

These provisions of order 2020-008 of March 22, 2020 were repealed by order 2020-033 of May 7, 2020.

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

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

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

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

Please note that section was substantially modified on July 6, 2020 to take into account order 2020-049 of July 4, 2020, which repeals the first paragraph of order 2020-033 of May 7, 2020.

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 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.

Please note that section was substantially modified on July 6, 2020 to take into account order 2020-049 of July 4, 2020, which repeals the first paragraph of order 2020-033 of May 7, 2020.

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 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 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).

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

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

However, order 2020-033 of May 7, 2020 amended the applicable rules and it is possible, since that date, for referendum proceedings to be conducted under certain conditions. In particular, during a public health emergency, the process of signing the register is replaced by a remote 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  2020-008 and for which written consultation was completed prior to May 7, 2020 is not subject to referendum approval and may be passed by council.

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

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

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

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

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

The 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 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 by-laws, loan commitments, or the creation of financial reserves.

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

The Ministère will soon make available 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 (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 by-laws, as is customary.

Municipal territorial organization

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Territorial division into electoral districts

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Ministère recommends that this public notice 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Use of voters’ lists

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fonds régions et ruralité (regions and rurality fund)

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

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

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

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

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

The RCM may not use RRF funds to make loans.

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

No expenses related to projects already carried out are eligible.

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

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

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