With Bill 61, the government of Quebec seeks to advance an economic stimulus package that accelerates the approval of new infrastructure projects at the expense of essential environmental assessments.
Équiterre submitted a brief on Bill 61, along with our recommendations, which was presented this morning before the Committee on Public Finance by our Director of Government Relations, Marc-André Viau, and our Climate Policy Analyst, Caroline Brouillette.
"The safety and well-being of the population requires investments and policy choices to build the resilience of communities affected by both the pandemic and climate change. We believe that this bill does not fully support these objectives," stated Marc-André Viau.
The environment must be a driver of the reconstruction, for the resilience of our societies
Bill 61 for the economic recovery, which the government is seeking to propel forward at high speeds this week, would give it sweeping powers to, among other things, circumvent environmental rules and tendering procedures for awarding infrastructure contracts designed to rebuild the economy.
It sends a signal that the government sees the protection of our environment and the fight against climate change as obstacles to the reconstruction of Quebec and its economic recovery.
Yes, massive unprecedented investments will have to be made in the weeks, months and years to come. But just as public health has guided political, individual and collective action in the face of COVID-19, science has been telling us for years that the environment must be the driving force behind our reconstruction, for the resilience of our societies.
We therefore encourage the government to substantially amend its bill to
- include mandatory environmental performance specifications in public tenders;
- ensure consistency of this bill with Bill 44 on climate governance;
- replace the environmental quality acceleration measures with resource enhancement within the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change;
- increase transparency and strengthen accountability mechanisms.
If that is not possible, we are calling for the immediate rejection of Bill 61 in its current form and for broad and inclusive consultations with all sectors of society in order to make it possible to invest in the Quebec of tomorrow, not the Quebec of the past.
Sign the petition to add your voice to ours: Say no to a bill that sacrifices the environment in the name of economic recovery!