(Quebec) The Legault government will table a bill on Thursday to increase water royalties and create a Blue Fund, whose budget is however revised downwards, from 650 million to 500 million. Quebec will also put in place mitigation measures to help certain industries.

The Minister of the Environment, Benoit Charette, will present to parliamentarians his bill “establishing the Blue Fund and modifying other provisions”, which should significantly increase the derisory royalties 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.

In return, the Minister of the Economy, 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,” Mr. Fitzgibbon said in an exchange with La Presse.

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

The cost paid by Ontario businesses – currently seven times higher than in Quebec – was taken into consideration.

With the money collected through this higher fee, Quebec will be able to support “technology investments” to reduce water waste. “The ultimate goal is not to tax. The ultimate goal is to recirculate the water as much as possible. Those who are not as advanced, we can help them go faster. This is what must be done, otherwise the impact is too great. Pulp and paper, you’re right, that’s the most affected sector,” he said.

Currently, the levy rate is set at $0.0025 per cubic meter of water used for businesses that require water in their production process, such as pulp and paper mills and chemical plants. The royalty rate is set at $0.07 per cubic meter of water used for industries that use water as a component of their products.

The sums withdrawn will be directed to the Blue Fund, created with the bill. In total, Quebec will invest $500 million over five years to support the creation of the Blue Fund, including $50 million this year, $75 million next year and $100 million the following year.

In the election campaign, François Legault promised rather 650 million. In the office of the Minister of the Environment, Benoit Charette, it is said that what was presented in the most recent Girard budget is a first step.

The government has not yet determined the measures financed by the Blue Fund, but gave several examples, such as “maintaining and improving hydrometric monitoring networks”, improving “the characterization of the composition of municipal discharges », or an increase in funding for the Voluntary Lake Monitoring Network.

Last August, François Legault explained that the creation of the Blue Fund was necessary because of several alarming findings on the quality and quantity of our water reserves. He pointed out that “municipalities are increasingly experiencing water shortages”, that Quebec’s lakes are threatened by exotic aquatic plants and phosphorus, and that several waterways contain too many pesticides.