(Quebec) The Legault government has tabled its bill to increase water royalties paid by companies and create a Blue Fund, and it gives itself the power to ban single-use water bottles.

The piece of legislation will empower Environment Minister Benoît Charette, with “new regulatory powers,” to “prohibit or limit certain uses of water from an aqueduct system.” The Minister will also have the power to prohibit the sale and distribution “of products in the containers or packaging that he determines, in particular in non-refillable containers”.

This bill will also allow Mr. Charrette to significantly increase the paltry charges imposed on industries for using water.

Less than $3 million was paid last year by corporations to use this public good. The Legault government is expected to multiply these royalties by 10, to exceed the rate paid by Ontario companies.

La Presse reported in the morning that Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon has ensured that companies that consume a lot of water, such as paper mills, will receive a helping hand to avoid suffering too much from this tax. “There are mitigation measures because there are people who are more impacted than others,” he said in an exchange with La Presse.

“I wouldn’t think of jeopardizing the mining industry and the water industry. Me and my colleague Maité [Blanchette Vézina, Minister of Natural Resources and Forests], we worked with Benoit Charrette,” said Mr. Fitzgibbon.

The cost paid by Ontario businesses — currently seven times higher than in Quebec — was taken into consideration. With the sums collected with this higher fee, Quebec will be able to “support” “technology investments” to reduce water waste.

The royalty money will be directed to the Blue Fund, created with the bill.

More details to come.