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Has Quebec caught up on the backlog of environmental dossiers?

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Here we are in June, and the Quebec legislative session will soon be coming to an end. Last December, we identified 5 things that the government needs to deliver on in 2023. Files on which we expected action in 2022, which were already behind schedule.

Has the government finally delivered the goods? There's no time like the present to take stock of the first part of the year.

Where are we at on the 5 backlogged dossiers?

1. The Government Sustainable Development Strategy

Reminder: This is the strategy that guides the government in its actions and progress towards sustainable development. The current version of the strategy expired in 2020.


A draft of the government's new Sustainable Development Strategy (SDS) was released this past winter.

Équiterre’s reaction:

In our brief filed on the subject, Équiterre stated that this draft of the SDS does not measure up to the challenges of the ecological transition, putting forward 24 recommendations to improve it.

"In order to be both ambitious and realistic, the Sustainable Development Strategy will have to be integrated with other developing government policies, such as its 2050 energy vision and the Politique nationale de l'architecture et de l'aménagement du territoire. Its success will be measured by the solutions put forward, and by the political will to see them through." - Marc-André Viau, Director of Government Relations

2. Implementation plan for the Politique nationale de l’architecture et de l’aménagement du territoire (PNAAT) [national policy on architecture and land use planning]

Reminder: Following a broad public conversation in 2021, the government published its new Politique nationale de l’architecture et de l’aménagement du territoire [national policy on architecture and land use planning] (PNAAT) in June 2022. Though the action areas were good, there wasn’t yet anything concrete, so we were eagerly awaiting an implementation plan.

Progress (but does it go far enough?):

In early May, the government submitted a series of new orientations gouvernementales en aménagement du territoire [government policy orientations regarding land use planning] (OGAT) and is holding additional province-wide consultations on these policy orientations between May 8 and August 31. Again, we’ve got good intentions, again more consultations, but when will we put them into action? In order to protect our farmland, we must say no to large industrial projects and urban sprawl. To plan transportation in an integrated manner, we need to focus on mass transit projects throughout Quebec instead of highway projects. The evidence still remains to be seen.

Équiterre's reaction:

"After two years of consultations on the PNAAT, we're back in another broad consultation. While we wait for a real action plan with measures and legislation on this dossier, projects that violate the principles of sustainable development continue to be pushed forward. We can't waste any more time.” - Alizée Cauchon, Assistant Director of Government Relations

Next steps:

Various stakeholders will be consulted, and an online consultation is open to anyone interested in submitting comments this spring and summer. The new policy orientations will be adjusted based on the consultations and then made public in early 2024. And the action plan? Stay tuned...

3. The Plastic Reduction Strategy

Reminder: It’s a roadmap for reducing the need for single-use plastic items. The strategy, which was ready in 2020 and should have been released by now, is designed to reduce the use of short-lived plastic items by both industry and the public.

No progress:

Despite the government's commitment on the issue, we still have no news on when the strategy will be released.

Next steps:

Équiterre will be continuing to pressure the government to take action on this issue, demanding concrete action in 2023 from those responsible for this dossier.

4. Implementation of the expanded deposit-refund system

Reminder: Our deposit-refund system, which currently applies to beer and soft drink containers, will be greatly expanded to include all ready-to-drink beverage containers of 100 millilitres to 2 litres. Announced in 2019, the expanded deposit refund system was supposed to come into effect in the fall of 2022, but has been pushed back to November 2023. It has just recently been announced that we'll have to wait even longer, until early 2025, for plastic and glass containers to be included.

More barriers:

The government announced that the changes will be phased in over time. It is now proposing that it will start with only aluminum containers in the fall of 2023 and will wait before adding plastic, glass and multi-layer containers… more than a year later, in 2025!

Équiterre's reaction:

“We’re seeing a lack of commitment by the government on this dossier. The successive postponements, followed by a piecemeal approach to implementation, will make the system even more complex and may undermine its effectiveness." - Amélie Côté, Analyst, Reduction at the source

5. The Consumer Protection Act

Reminder: This is the law that governs consumer rights in Quebec, and defines various standards for the durability of everyday items. It includes the legal warranty, which stipulates that an item must have a reasonable lifespan under normal use.


We filed a petition (signed by 14,377 individuals) demanding that goods be more durable and more easily repaired. Our demands made their way to the Quebec Justice Minister and there was a big announcement on June 1! The Quebec government introduced the bill protecting consumers against programmed obsolescence and promoting the durability, reparability and maintenance of goods - an important step forward for access to repair in Quebec.

"Access to repair and the durability of goods is an issue of great concern to Quebec citizens and this bill positions Quebec as a leader on the issue." -Amélie Côté, Équiterre’s Analyst in Reduction at the source. For more ❯

Many other high priority issues

We’re working hard on the many other items listed in that same article from last December. A few new details have been added to the items that have a + symbol next to them in the list below. Where there isn’t a + symbol in the list below, there are no new details - no progress…

Quebec’s climate change adaptation strategy:

The government recently announced that it will be giving cities more money to help them cope with extreme weather events, which are becoming more and more frequent in Quebec. The latest adaptation strategy expired in 2020. There have been many shortcomings on climate change adaptation measures, and we’re suffering from the increasingly frequent impacts. The new OGAT 1 on adaptation must be supported by a strategy worthy of this name. The work needs to start now.

Quebec’s energy strategy:

A consultation on Quebec’s energy future has been launched. Équiterre is mobilizing Quebecers and encouraging them to make their voices heard! Learn more in the video of our webinar.

  • A strategy for healthy food autonomy — to be continued
  • An increase in Quebec's GHG emissions reduction target and the adoption of a carbon budget — to be continued
Improvements to the Plan for a Green Economy:

Updates to the Plan for a Green Economy were presented on May 19. Équiterre noted the increased investments announced in the budget but we feel that the government is sending mixed signals.

"There are some interesting measures in the update, particularly in the decarbonization of buildings and in active transportation. However, the government still seems hesitant and timid about certain measures that would have a much more significant impact on people's actions." - Marc-André Viau, Équiterre’s Director of Government Relations. Click here for more

  • Completion of public transit lines in Montreal (East End and Lachine) and development of a network in other cities (Longueuil, Gatineau, Sherbrooke and Quebec City) – to be continued
Cancellation of the planned 3rd Link highway project:

Victory! In April, the government announced that the planned 3rd Link highway between Lévis and Quebec City would not be built. Given the lack of favourable data, the staggering costs and the massive opposition against the project, the government had no choice but to back down. Thank you for taking part in our actions to stop the project!

"Dropping the highway portion of the 3rd Link was the right thing to do: the socio-economic, health and environmental impacts were too great. To protect agricultural land and natural areas, to improve air quality and to reach our GHG reduction targets, the government has made a responsible and pragmatic decision.” - Marc-André Viau, Director of Government Relations

  • Scrapping the Law concerning the acceleration of infrastructure projects — to be continued
  • Stopping highway extensions and expansions on wetlands and farmland — to be continued

Stay tuned! We'll keep you posted on our progress and on how you can contribute to the necessary systemic changes.

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