Quebec has introduced legislation to create the Société du Plan Nord (Company), the Crown corporation which will coordinate and contribute to the implementation of the government’s policy directions relating to the Plan Nord (or Northern Plan), the Government-led strategy for the development of Northern Quebec.

Here are six highlights of Bill 11 (the French version can be viewed here and the English version here):

  • The mission of the Company (whose property forms part of the domain of the state) is to contribute to the integrated and coherent development of the area covered by the Plan Nord (i.e., all of the territory of Quebec located north of the 49th degree of latitude and north of the St. Lawrence River and the Gulf of St. Lawrence) in keeping with the principle of sustainable development and in accordance with the government’s policy directions in relation to the Plan Nord. The Company will establish a strategic plan setting out its objectives and priorities in accordance with such government policy directions.
  • Bill 11 creates a public right of use of certain fully or partially privately owned government-designated infrastructure that is located on public land in the area covered by the Plan Nord. If the infrastructure owner and a user carrying on industrial or commercial activities cannot reach an agreement regarding the sharing of the infrastructure construction, maintenance and operating costs, the Company acts as a mediator. If they fail to reach an agreement by the end of the mediation process, the dispute is submitted to arbitration which cannot be appealed.
  • The Company and its subsidiaries are deemed to be “public bodies” as defined in the Act respecting Contracting by Public Bodies, the purpose of which is to determine the conditions applicable to public contracts and subcontracts between a public body and a contractor (including, in certain circumstances, the obligation for such a contractor to obtain an authorization from the Autorité des marchés financiers in order to enter into a public contract).
  • The Company is administered by a board of directors composed of 9 to 15 members (including the chair of the board and the president and chief executive officer), the majority of whom must qualify as independent directors in the government’s opinion. 
  • The Company is financed by contributions it receives, the fees it collects and the sums from the Northern Plan Fund put at its disposal. Bill 11 provides, however, for certain limitations on the Company’s powers, including, without limitation, that the Company cannot make any financial commitments in excess of the limits or terms imposed by the government. 
  • Bill 11 also establishes the Assembly of Partners, whose role is to provide an opinion on any matter the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources and Minister responsible for the Northern Plan or the Company submits to it in relation to the Company’s mission or activities. The Company names the members of the Assembly of Partners and ensures that it is representative of local and Native communities in designated territories and the main sectors of activity concerned.