The government of Québec launched on April 8, 2015 its new version of the Plan Nord by presenting the “Plan Nord toward 2035, the 2015-2020 Action Plan”.
This new version pursues the main objective of the first version of the Plan Nord, launched in 2011 by the Prime Minister of the time, Mr. Jean Charest: the economic and social development of Québec’s territory north of the 49th parallel by the exploitation of natural resources, in accordance with the principles of sustainable development.
This main objective is now structured around three key strategic policy directions:
- develop the diversified economic potential of northern Québec in a responsible way and for the benefit of the population living there and Québec as a whole;
- support the development of all communities in the area covered by the Plan Nord, by helping them realize their full potential and enhancing their living conditions;
- protect the environment and preserve the distinctive biodiversity of northern Québec by ensuring that mechanisms are put in place to dedicate 50% of the area covered by the Plan Nord, by 2035, to non-industrial purposes, protection of the environment and the safeguarding of biodiversity.
In the context of the implementation of its policy framework for the Plan Nord, the government undertakes to respect the following four basic principles:
- a planned, coordinated project based on partnership, private-sector investment and support for communities, in particular through the creation of the Société du Plan Nord;
- a focus on sustainable development that integrates the economic, social and environmental dimensions;
- government actions adapted to the realities of local and aboriginal communities and to northern areas in general;
- a harmonious and ethical approach to development that remains respectful of aboriginal and non-aboriginal communities and consistent with equality between men and women.
Just like the Plan Nord of 2011, this new version of the Plan Nord envisions the implementation of governmental policies for the Plan Nord in five-year plans. The first of these is the “2015-2020 Action Plan” and sets forth the following priority actions:
- re-establish a context conducive to mineral development based on a wide range of resources;
- diversify and promote products from the forest environment and implement integrated forest management methods;
- continue to develop the North’s energy potential;
- increase the socio-economic benefits of wildlife activities while ensuring the long-term viability of the resource;
- promote tourism development by highlighting the area’s distinctive character;
- design and implement a sustainable northern bio-food model based on potential in the area.
The five-year plan will be implemented by the Société du Plan Nord, a state-owned enterprise newly incorporated as of April 1, 2015 under its incorporating statute entitled An Act respecting the Société du Plan Nord.
The Société du Plan Nord will be financed by the Northern Plan Fund, established in 2011, with an estimated budget of 356.7 million dollars for the 2015-2020 period. Taking into account the contributions from other ministries and public organizations, as well as from private partners, the government estimates that 1.34 billion dollars will be invested in Plan Nord projects for the 2015-2020 period.
The launching of the Plan Nord follows the tabling of the budget and the announcement of the 2015-2025 Québec Infrastructure Plan on March 26, 2015.