Bill 102 – Act to amend the Environment Quality Act
In a letter to the Committee on Transportation and the Environment, the Québec Ombudsman commented on subdivision 4 of the Bill, entitled "Wastewater management and treatment facility." It addressed this issue in its report on the control and monitoring of private waterworks systems in Québec, released in February 2015.
Approval of the rates charged to private waterworks system subscribers
The Environment Quality Act, as currently drafted, obliges all private waterworks system operators to get the Minister's prior approval for the rates to be charged to their subscribers, a requirement which no longer figures in Bill 102. Instead, it provides that the Minister may, but is not obliged to, approve, with or without modification, changes to the rates charged when a person or group of people whose building is served by a waste management or treatment facility covered by government regulation makes such a request.
Since private operators have the power to charge fees for an essential service, the people served who approach the Minister about changes to the rates charged to them must be ensured of obtaining the Minister's opinion on this question. This is why the Québec Ombudsman recommends that the Bill be amended to oblige the Minister to analyze subscribers’ requests.
The same recourse for all
The Québec Ombudsman also recommends that subscribers—and not only operators as stipulated in the current Act—be allowed to seek recourse with the Tribunal administratif du Québec (TAQ) if they are dissatisfied with the Minister's response to their request.