In order to reduce administrative delays, abundant paperwork and costs affecting businesses, Lucie Lecours, Minister for the Economy of the Coalition Avenir Québec (hereinafter the “CAQ“), tabled Bill 44 on June 7 in accordance with the government Action Plan on Regulatory and Administrative Relief 2020-2025. The CAQ envisages Quebec as one of the best places to do business in a simpler and more competitive environment. With the thirty-five (35) measures proposed relating to implementing flexible business hours, abolishing specific rules for advertising contests and the liquor industry, the Quebec government expects to save entrepreneurs in the province $7 million annually.
1. Hours and days of admission to commercial establishments
First, the Bill proposes to amend the Act respecting hours and days of admission to commercial establishments and to enact the Regulation respecting hours and days of admission to commercial establishments. In essence, these changes would now allow the government to set the hours of admission to commercial establishments entirely by regulation. The current hours of admission to commercial establishments would not change, however. They would simply be easier to access under one regulation. This flexibility would give municipalities the power to vary these conditions within their respective jurisdictions for different types of businesses, a power currently given only to the city of Montreal.
2. Provisions for the alcoholic beverages sector
The Bill makes several proposals that could affect businesses selling alcoholic beverages. First, the Bill proposes to eliminate the delivery permit under the Act respecting liquor permits and the Act respecting offences relating to alcoholic beverages. This permit currently authorizes public transportation services to transport alcoholic beverages.
Instead, the proposed legislation could allow public carriers to store and transport alcoholic beverages and permit the consumption of alcoholic beverages in vehicles used to transport persons while the vehicle is in motion without the need of a delivery permit.
It should be noted, however, that the place where the liquor is stored could be subject to inspections or seizures by a police officer if the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the place is being used for the storage of liquor by a public carrier.
3. Provisions for advertising contests
Currently, the fees for holding a contest in Quebec are very onerous and entrepreneurs wishing to do business in the province could benefit from their reduction. The Act respecting lotteries, publicity contests and amusement machines require contest holders to fill out several forms setting out all the conditions of the contest and several rules limiting their advertising display. Note that they must also give up to 10% of the value of the prize to the Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux (hereinafter the “Régie“).
Thus, an important part of the government’s reform plan is to repeal all the rules surrounding advertising contests so that businesses will no longer have to complete as many administrative formalities to hold a contest, including the payment of fees to the Régie. Also, in the Act respecting lotteries, publicity contests and amusement machines, the government proposes to abolish all references to publicity contests.
4. Provisions concerning the publication of rights
With respect to the publication of rights, four (4) provisions of the Civil Code of Québec could be amended to reduce the time limit for making certain rights effective against third parties from fifteen (15) to seven (7) days. Thus, the reservation of ownership of a vehicle or any other movable property, a sale with a right of redemption, the rights of ownership of a lessor as well as the rights resulting from a lease will have to be published within seven (7) days of their acquisition in order to be enforceable against third parties. Specifically, the Bill would amend Articles 1745, 1750, 1847 and 1852 of the Civil Code of Québec.
5. Provisions Concerning the Names of Enterprises
Currently, entrepreneurs wishing to register with the Registraire des entreprises du Québec (hereinafter the “REQ“) are required to pay fees for the production of a search report of the names used and declared in the register. Through Bill 44, Minister Lecours proposes to remove this formality by amending the provisions of the Act respecting the legal publicity of enterprises, the Business Corporations Act and the Companies Act governing the formalities for searching and reserving a company name. This change could make the registration of companies in the REQ more accessible.
In conclusion, according to the Minister Lucie Lecours, these changes would significantly facilitate administrative processes for businesses, thus sparing them from unnecessary costs and delays. This article offers an overview of the legislative changes proposed by Bill 44 that could affect businesses, but several other rules may be applicable, notably in respect of municipal matters and building security. Professionals at DS Lawyers Canada are available to answer any questions or to provide information regarding Bill 44.