$50 billion investment to unlock potential of Northern Quebec
Plan Nord has long been touted as the catalyst to unlock the economic potential of Quebec’s vast north and kick-start much needed investment in these remote communities. Quebec’s north is home to a rich crop of iron ore, copper, nickel, zinc, gold, uranium, cobalt, diamonds and other minerals. To access these resources a massive injection of cash will expand, refurbish or build new ports, airport, roads and railways, as well as electricity generation to provide the necessary infrastructure for mining. In the longer term it will also open up the region to industries like sustainable forestry and tourism. There will also need to be major investments in much needed housing, community services, and amenities. By 2035 the Quebec government expects this to add up to a combined C$50 billion of public and private investment in the region.
To maximize local and province-wide economic spin-offs and benefits for Quebec from major public and private investments in Plan Nord.
For the Quebec government there are two major economic priorities for Plan Nord: providing local economic opportunities to invigorate northern communities and provide a local economic and infrastructure stimulus; and ensuring that companies right across Quebec play a full role in providing their products and services. Quebec faced two challenges in promoting local involvement: firstly, they have to provide fair access for other Canadian and international firms to bid for public procurement opportunities; secondly as much of the money being spent is private companies will make decisions on what is in their best interests. Their approach to driving local involvement was built around the following elements:
- Political commitment: Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard gave a clear mandate to squeeze the maximum economic benefits for the province out of the Plan Nord. Relaunching the initiative originally put forward by former Quebec Premier Jean Charest, Couillard has been a vocal supporter of the project with a clear focus on economic benefits for the province as a whole: “Quebec needs to increase its overall wealth and create new jobs in all of its regions. The Plan Nord will help us meet this challenge.”
- Dedicated champion: The Quebec government set up a dedicated champion in the Société du Plan Nord. This authority is responsible for not only making Plan Nord happen, but was tasked with maximizing the economic spinoffs generated by the development of the natural resources in the area covered by the Plan Nord.
- Local connections: The Société du Plan Nord set up a marketing office to proactively communicate with local and regional companies, as well as setting up satellite offices in Nunavik, Baie-James–Eeyou Istchee, Côte-Nord and Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean. The Société works helps companies market their products and services, and gives them guidance on the challenges and opportunities of doing business in the north of the province.
- Right tools: To make it as easy as possible for local companies to get involved the government worked with Quebec company Cognibox to set up an online marketplace for potential suppliers. The specially designed platform provides a one-stop shop for any information, upcoming tenders, notifications of specific needs of public and private buyers, buyer policies and qualification processes, and all kinds of news, events, and advice. It also facilities connections enabling companies to find partners.