The Premier of Québec, Philippe Couillard, and the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Minister responsible for the Northern Plan and Minister responsible for the Côte-Nord region, Pierre Arcand, unveiled the government’s Plan Nord toward 2035, 2015-2020 Action Plan.
“Our five-year action plan sets out a long-term vision as well as a series of priority actions that we intend to implement promptly to achieve our economic and social development goals. Our vision is simple: by 2015, the Plan Nord will have enabled the development of the vast potential of the North for the benefit of northern communities and for Québec as a whole as part of an exemplary, sustainable development initiative that centres around a comprehensive, integrated and responsible approach,” said Premier Couillard.
Fundamental principles The Premier stressed that northern resources development must benefit northern communities and contribute to the progress of Québec as a whole. He noted the need for government action in Northern Québec to respect four fundamental principles:
• A planned and coordinated project that focuses on partnerships, private sector investments and support for communities
• A sustainable development approach that includes economic, social and environmental dimensions
• Government actions that are adapted to the needs of local and native communities and Northern Québec as a whole
• Harmonious and ethical development that respects native and non-native populations and promotes gender equality
“The Plan Nord hinges on developing close partnerships with the communities in Northern Québec and respecting the development priorities they have set for themselves. Our ongoing dialogue with partners in Northern Québec testifies to the strong commitment of our government to maintaining and strengthening the special and vibrant relationship it has established with them,” explained the Premier.
Updated priorities Minister Arcand said that, based on the long-term vision of the Plan Nord, the government has targeted three main strategic priorities to guide its approach and that of its partners:
• Responsibly develop the vast economic potential of Northern Québec for the benefit of Northern communities and for Québec as a whole
• Support the development of all the communities in the area covered by the Plan Nord, both in terms of reaching their full potential and enhancing their living conditions
• Protect the environment and preserve the unique biodiversity of Northern Québec by introducing mechanisms to ensure that, by 2035, 50% of the area covered by the Plan Nord is set aside for non-industrial purposes, environmental protection and the safeguarding of biodiversity
“The business environment and financial support measures we are putting in place will help create favourable conditions for attracting private investments in Northern Québec. To ensure the success of the Plan Nord, we will also take concrete steps to help develop the transportation and telecommunication infrastructure. Scientific knowledge, which is key to planning our actions, will also be supported, notably with the creation of the Institut nordique du Québec” said Minister Arcand.
Implementation framework Minister Arcand pointed out that the government has established a governance structure tailored to the objectives it has set for implementation of the Plan Nord. He mentioned that the Société du Plan Nord will be the key agency involved in rolling out the various components of the Plan Nord in accordance with the policies adopted by the government and in consultation with the representatives of the regions and the native nations concerned as well as the private sector.
The Société will be supported in its work by the Assembly of Partners, whose members are appointed to ensure it is representative of the communities in the area covered by the Plan Nord as well as of the main economic sectors involved. Its role is to advise the Société and the Minister responsible on all matters submitted to it by the Société that are related to its mission and activities. It may also, on its own initiative, provide opinions and make recommendations.
With the relaunch of the Plan Nord, major investments will support current and future development projects north of the 49th parallel. The government will use funds placed at its disposal from the Northern Plan Fund, which are estimated at $356.7 million over the 2015-2020 timeframe. These sums, combined with contributions from various government departments and agencies and their partners, will enable the government to support projects totalling $1.340 billion over the next five years.
“By adding measures entirely funded by the various government departments and agencies and their partners, the projects undertaken in the area covered by the Plan Nord will total nearly $2 billion over the 2015-2020 period. In addition, there will be major private sector investments and contributions from the federal government,” explained Minister Arcand.
“By relaunching the Plan Nord, the government has taken a strategic step forward in its pursuit of the initiative it launched in 2011 to ensure the harmonious and sustainable development of Northern Québec. With this updated vision, our government will now be in a position to achieve the goals it has set to develop the economic potential of Northern Québec for all Quebecers, to ensure the well-being of local and native communities and to protect the environment and preserve the biodiversity of this vast territory,” concluded Premier Couillard.
The Plan Nord toward 2035, 2015-2020 Action Plan and its framework for implementation are available on the Plan Nord website.