Quebec tables last-minute bill to increase royalties on commercial water use

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Quebec Environment Minister tables bill increasing water royalties
WATCH: In a last-minute move, Benoit Charette tabled Bill 42 aimed at increasing rates on commercial water use. As Global's Olivia O'Malley explains, opposition parties are accusing Charette of pulling a pre-election stunt, since the bill cannot be passed before the National Assembly breaks for the summer – Jun 8, 2022

Environmment minister Benoit Charette tabled Bill 42 Wednesday, to increase the royalties the province charges commercial water users.

The last-minute motion is unlikely to pass, with just three days left before the legislature breaks for summer.

“There’s no way that this is going to be adopted, so at the end of the day it’s almost a joke (this) late in the mandate to table such an important bill,” said Québec solidaire MNA Vincent Marissal.

Instead, Charette says it will become part of the Coalition Avenir Québec’s electoral platform.

“If we are re-elected…we will (table) this bill again,” he told reporters at the National Assembly.

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The rates on commercial water use have not increased since they were put in place 12 years ago. The proposed bill would see prices increase every three years, coming into effect six months after the bill is adopted.

Charette says it’s so the government does not let more time pass without revision “to make sure that we don’t go in the same direction.”

The province currently charges $70 per million litres of water to companies that produce bottled water. According to government figures, bottling water in Quebec is seven times cheaper than in Ontario.

“They (commercial users) pay 35 millionths of a cent for each litre of water they took. So we’re basically giving away Quebec’s water to industry,” said Philippe Duhamel, Eau Secours spokesperson.

The water management organization believes it’s time royalties are increased. Duhamel says the scarcity of the resource is increasing due to climate change.

“Everybody needs to realize the importance of water and we have to put a kind of price on water,” said Charette.

The government isn’t saying what price tag they would put on the resource, leaving it open to consultation if re-elected for a second mandate. Those are discussions Eau Secours hopes to be involved in.


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