To channel the dynamism of local and aboriginal populations and ensure that they benefit as much as possible from the development of the North’s economic potential, the Plan Nord targets the following seven objectives:
- Broaden the reflection on the occupation of the northern territory.
- Help local and aboriginal communities plan and structure their development.
- Promote labour force training and retention in the North.
- Increase graduation rates and educational attainment in northern communities.
- Provide a more adequate response to the social needs of local populations.
- Ensure the cultural development of northern communities and highlight the cultural heritage of local communities and aboriginal nations.
- Consolidate the services provided for families and seniors living in local and aboriginal communities by supporting innovative, collaborative solutions.
A development of the North for local communities
Development projects linked to the Plan Nord offer several ways for local and aboriginal communities to improve their quality of life, consolidate their sense of belonging and pride, and keep young people in the community. At the same time, they present significant challenges, for example ensuring that local residents have access to the jobs generated by the projects and are able to exercise suitable control over structural effects on the social fabric, culture, land use and public infrastructures.
The arrival of new enterprises and new residents, including families, can also trigger industrial, commercial and residential development and create extra needs for municipal infrastructures and services of all kinds, in particular for children and seniors.
- Document fly-in/fly-out (FIFO) issues for enterprises, workers and communities, especially in the Côte-Nord region.
- Continue to offer support for communities in their efforts to adapt to change.
- Continue the implementation of the Québec-municipalities infrastructure program (Programme d’infrastructures Québec-Municipalités, or PIQM), which enables municipalities to implement infrastructure projects to meet priority development needs.
- Support social involvement by enterprises.
Train more specialized workers to meet the needs of development projects in the area covered by the Plan Nord
The implementation of the Plan Nord constitutes an unprecedented challenge for Québec because of the need to develop, attract, integrate and retain workers. General, technical and vocational education is, from this point of view, an essential component in the economic development of northern Québec.
The technical and vocational education currently available and accessible to the local population is, however, limited and not necessarily adapted to local labour force needs. Efforts must be made to promote the training, integration and retention of women and Aboriginals in certain high value-added jobs.
In addition, despite the effort made to provide education and vocational training in the area covered by the Plan Nord, the need for specialized workers is so great that it cannot be met just by graduates from the training centres in the area.
Priority of actions for 2015-2020 in the field of Labour Force Development
- Attract, recruit and retain workers using the Online Placement website, job fairs, and access to an information service associated with the Plan Nord to inform and guide job seekers.
- Promote regional hiring in the construction sector by revising the placement regions for the construction sector in the Nord-du-Québec region.
- Produce and distribute information on the labour market.
- Support worker training by providing information on the labour market to improve the match between industry needs and worker skills, and by introducing employment assistance measures.
- Strengthen the links with aboriginal communities by maintaining a network of aboriginal liaison officers at Emploi-Québec offices and reviewing their tasks as required.
- Promote equal access to the labour market for women in the construction sector, in aboriginal communities and in all spheres of northern development.
- Encourage full participation by women in the workforce, by offering services for families and children in northern communities that are adapted to their needs, particularly high-quality, accessible daycare services.
Student retention is a crucial element in the development of northern Québec. The prospect of obtaining a good job should, in itself, be a powerful incentive for students in the area covered by the Plan Nord to continue their education. However, the dropout rate for young First Nations and Inuit people is higher than the rate for Québec as a whole.
General adult education, technical and vocational education
- Analyze the possibility of grouping together the vocational education school boards to maximize the possibility of training qualified workers.
- Increase the support services provided to aboriginal students.
College and university programs
- Launch a process, with other players in the area, to identify current and foreseeable needs in the field of higher education.
- Help establish regional mechanisms for coordination and cooperation with all players in the area covered by the Plan Nord to ensure an effective response to the needs expressed.
- Provide support for educational institutions in the design and implementation of training programs and infrastructures.
Recreation and sports services
- Improve existing actions plans in the field of recreation and sport.
Health, social services and justice
Large-scale projects in a northern environment can have both positive and negative impacts on various factors influencing the health of the population. These impacts can be seen in the physical and mental health of individuals, their lifestyles or their socio-economic characteristics. They may also influence workers’ families, the dynamics and infrastructures of the communities in the vicinity of the projects, the organization of health and education services, and environment quality.
There are also clear differences between northern communities, whether local or Aboriginal, in terms of their social vulnerability and their ability to act and respond. Some northern communities also experience significant social problems,
- Improve access to health and social services for clients in the North.
- Anticipate the impacts of development projects on communities in northern Québec.
- Take preventive action and intervene in response to priority social problems.
- Consolidate and improve services in the field of justice.
The housing situation
In Nunavik, the serious lack of available housing has led to overcrowding in hundreds of dwellings. Overcrowding, in turn, accelerates the pace at which buildings deteriorate and exacerbates certain problems, including the propagation of infectious diseases. In addition, the cramped conditions can generate social problems.
The situation is different, but no less a concern, in the rest of the area covered by the Plan Nord. The number of new mining projects has led to a genuine housing crisis in some municipalities. In addition, there are currently few resources to help people with special needs.
High construction costs are also a major problem with a direct impact on the ability of regional authorities, for example in Nunavik, to increase the number of available dwellings.
- Revise the parameters of the Home Ownership and Renovation Program for the Kativik Region.
- Take part in catch-up work to deal with the shortage of housing by building additional dwellings in Nunavik.
- Maintain the measures for land occupancy aiming at supporting the construction of affordable housing to meet specific needs in regions located north of the 49th parallel, under the AccèsLogis Québec Program.
- Establish financial tools to ensure that sufficient hypothecary credit is available for residents in the Kativik region and that building values remain stable, in particular via a repurchasing fund.
- Stimulate the construction of private dwellings in regions other than Nunavik via the Affordable Housing Québec Program (private component).
- Establish a northern housing laboratory to stimulate research on northern housing issues.
Cultural development as a lever for action
With the deployment of the Plan Nord, northern populations will experience a substantial degree of economic development in the coming years. Aboriginal nations and local communities hope that their culture and identity will also gain from this development. By ensuring that their culture remains vibrant, the communities affected by the Plan Nord will be able to build a strong relationship with the rest of Québec that takes their identity into account.
- Sign or enhance cultural development agreements with aboriginal nations and northern partners.
- Help establish cultural centres to preserve, develop and disseminate culture, the arts and heritage.
- Promote artists from the North in the application of the policy integrating the arts with architecture and with the environment of government and publics buildings and sites.
- Continue to adapt programs and services to give northern partners access to culture.
- Help aboriginal populations recognize, protect and enhance their languages.
- Elaborate and adopt an action plan to highlight the value of the northern cultural heritage.
- Promote cultural exchanges at the international level to contribute to the dissemination of aboriginal values.
The development of northern Québec will have impacts that will lead, in particular, to increased risks in the area of public security and civil protection. This will require the application of programs, measures and specific intervention methods by the government departments and bodies concerned. There will be a need, in particular, for police services adapted to the realities of the North.
Similarly, the area covered by the Plan Nord is not immune to natural or man-made events that pose a threat to people’s lives or safety or, more generally, have a major impact on the normal course of activities in the community where they occur.
Given that many areas have few or no roads or other infrastructures, and given the distances involved, it becomes more difficult to intervene in the event of an emergency such as a forest fire or another natural
or man-made disaster. This is why the public security services made available to northern communities must be adjusted to meet the new needs generated by the implementation of the Plan Nord.
- Adopt an integrated management approach for risks connected with forest fires.
- Establish programs and tools adapted to the new needs generated by the Plan Nord;
- Monitor regions and aboriginal communities in connection with strategic and operational issues with an impact on public security and police services.
- Support and advise local and aboriginal communities on the establishment of emergency prevention and preparedness measures, as well as disaster recovery measures.