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Simon Shields,
LLB

Barrister and Solicitor
(Retired)
LSUC #37308N


simonshields@isp.com

Legal Writing and Research


Wild Animal Law of Canada

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Environment-Related Acts (Quebec)

(current to 01 November 2016)

Note Re Application of the Environment Quality Act and the Pesticides Act

These statutes apply to limit and mitigate pollution, and to regulate pesticide use, in Quebec. As such their primary relevance to wildlife is habitat protection, though in the case of the Pesticides Act there is also an extermination relevance.

These laws bears on the wildlife issues of:
  • PROTECTION
  • HABITAT
  • HUMAN HEALTH
  • EXTERMINATION
The full current text of these statutes and their Regulations may be viewed at the Quebec statute website.

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Table of Contents
1. Overview
2. EQA Protections
3. EQA Administrative Methods
4. Private EQA Court Enforcement
5. Pesticides
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1. Overview

Like all other Ontario provinces, Quebec has an environmental protection act, here called the Environment Quality Act ('EQA'). It's primary relevance to wildlife is it's role in protecting animal habitat (aka the 'environment' or 'water, atmosphere and soil': EQA 1).

The primary categories of pollution concern in the EQA include: land contamination, water resource regulation, climate change emissions monitoring, waste and hazardous materials management, "radiation, plasmas, fields, material waves, pressure and any other energy vector(s)" and noise. Many other provinces merge their pesticide regulation with such general environmental statutes due, and in this module I have merged that subject here even though it is contained in a separate statute [the Pesticides Act ('PA')].

As a practical matter, those facing animal-related EQA or PA concerns would most commonly have recourse to these statutes where animals are being impacted by industrial pollution, toxins, pesticide or similar substance-related harm. Even then they would have to locate the substances within the Acts and their extensive regulations to see how the problem is regulated and what can be done about it:
2. EQA Protections

The primary protection afforded by the EQA is that "(e)very person has a right to a healthy environment and to its protection, and to the protection of the living species inhabiting it, to the extent provided for by this Act and the regulations, orders, approvals and authorizations issued under any section of this Act" [EQA 19.1]. Several other specific mentions of animals, as policy considerations in relation to specific pollution concerns, are located throughout the EQA.

Additional general protective provisions include:
  • "(n)o one may emit, deposit, issue or discharge or allow the emission, deposit, issuance or discharge into the environment of a contaminant in a greater quantity or concentration than that provided for by regulation of the Government" [EQA 20];

  • (n)o one may emit, deposit, issue or discharge or allow the emission, deposit, issuance or discharge into the environment of a contaminant" that is likely to affect the life, health, safety, welfare or comfort of human beings, or to cause damage to or otherwise impair the quality of the soil, vegetation, wildlife or property" [EQA 20].

3. EQA Administrative Methods

The following are general administrative regulatory methods are used in the EQA:
  • Authorizations

    Prior Ministerial authorizations are required before anyone [EQA 22]:

    • "may erect or alter a structure, undertake to operate an industry, carry on an activity or use an industrial process or increase the production of any goods or services if it seems likely that this will result in an emission, deposit, issuance or discharge of contaminants into the environment or a change in the quality of the environment";

    • "may erect or alter any structure, carry out any works or projects, undertake to operate any industry, carry on any activity or use any industrial process or increase the production of any goods or services in a constant or intermittent watercourse, a lake, pond, marsh, swamp or bog";

    • water withdrawal authorizations are required where large volumes of surface or groundwater are taken for private use [EQA 31.75];

    • "may establish waterworks, install water purification appliances or carry out work respecting sewers or the installation of devices for the treatment of waste water" [EQA 32].

  • Ministerial Orders

    The Minister may make the following Orders:

    • when the Minister ascertains the presence in the environment of a contaminant, they may, on notice to the subject of the Order, "order whoever is responsible for the source of contamination to cease finally or temporarily or to limit, the emission, deposit, issuance or discharge of such contaminant" [EQA 25];

    • similar Ministerial Orders, but without notice, may be made where "the emission, deposit, issuance or discharge of a contaminant [poses] an immediate danger results to the life or health of persons or a danger of serious or irreparable damage to property" [EQA 26];

    • where contaminants are present in the land in a concentration exceeding the limit values prescribed by a regulation, or that contaminants, even though not violating a regulation, "are likely to adversely affect the life, health, safety, welfare or comfort of human beings, other living species or the environment in general, or to be detrimental to property" the the Minister may issue Orders to mitigate the contamination and it's effects (including a rehabilitation plan) [EQA 31.43].

  • Environmental Assessments

    Environmental assessments may be required for constructions, works, activities or operations likely to have a significant environmental impact, as set out in the EQ Regulations (which allow for categorical and discretionary exemptions of some activities from this requirement) [EQA 31.1, 31.6].

  • Depollution Attestations

    A depollution attestation is essentially a Ministry-approved pollution regulation plan, usually prepared and advanced by the operators of an industrial establishment [EQA 31.12-31.13].

    No "person may emit, deposit, release or discharge into the environment or allow the emission, deposit, release or discharge into the environment of a contaminant resulting from the operation of an industrial establishment" without a prior 'depollution attestation' [EQA 31.11]. Depollution attestations are also required for municipal wastewater treatment works [EQA 31.33].

4. Private EQA Court Enforcement

Any resident suffering a degradation of their right to a clean environment may apply to court for an injunction prohibiting the impugned activities [EQA 19.2-19.3]. Such proceedings may also be brought by municipalities or the provincial Attorney-General.


5. Pesticides

The Pesticides Act ('PA') defines 'pesticide' as meaning "any substance, matter or microorganism intended to directly or indirectly control, destroy, mitigate, attract or repel any organism that is injurious to or noxious or troublesome for humans, animal life, vegetation, crops or any other object, or intended for use as a plant growth regulator, except a vaccine or a medication other than a topical medication for external use on animals" [PA 1]. Plainly this can include species of wildlife, if only rodents and agricultural 'pests', though neither the Act nor the Pesticides Management Code (see below) make any further specific reference to 'animals' as such.

The 'guts' of the PA's regulation of pesticides are located in the Pesticides Management Code, which sets out in detail rules for the storage, sale and use of pesticides.

The Ministry may use typical regulatory enforcement methods to bring about compliance with the PA, including authority to make compliance orders [PA 13-15] and prosecution of PA offences [PA 110-119].



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