Budget 2014-2015 - Press Release 5 of 7 - Natural Resources, the Centrepiece of Québec's Economic Development

QUÉBEC, June 4, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - In tabling Budget 2014-2015, Finance Minister Carlos Leitão announced a series of actions and measures to support responsible natural resource development in Québec.

Deployment of the Plan Nord
The Minister announced that the government is reviving the Plan Nord, in an enhanced version. It will be deployed with the participation of local and Aboriginal communities and with sustainable development in mind. The benefits of the Plan Nord will be optimized so that all regions of Québec profit. To carry out this project successfully, the government is confirming its intention to create the Société du Plan Nord.

"The Société du Plan Nord will play a key role in the implementation of the government strategy for responsible and sustainable development of Northern Québec's natural resources. It will be responsible for coordinating the territory's development in consultation with all partners, including local and Aboriginal communities to ensure their support," the Minister said.

Financial assistance to implement the Plan Nord will be provided through the Northern Plan Fund, endowed with $63 million for 2014-2015. The Fund will finance major work on road infrastructure in the Plan Nord territory, including the extension of highway 138 and the repair of highway 389 in the Côte-Nord region and the James Bay highway.

"Furthermore, the government is confirming its intention to acquire equity interests in companies in the mining and oil and gas sectors, so that Québec society can obtain, as a shareholder, a direct share in the profits. The Capital Mines Hydrocarbures fund, provided for in Budget 2012-2013, will be created through legislation in the fall. An allocation of $1 billion will be made to the fund," the Minister announced.

He also announced that the government will be participating in a feasibility study on construction of a new rail line providing access to the Labrador Trough. The government is also reviving the Québec Tourism Strategy North of the 49th Parallel, with $3.2 million in funding to promote Northern Québec as a travel destination.

In addition, the Minister announced strategic investments to foster the development of, and access to, the territory. A total of $100 million will be invested to establish suitable educational facilities that will contribute to the academic and vocational success of people living in the North, including Aboriginal people, and to train more skilled workers. A northern development research centre, the Institut nordique du Québec, will be created to support research and development to advance knowledge about northern regions.

Development of Québec's natural resources
"In recent months, the mining industry suffered a substantial decrease in private investment, in particular because of the instability caused by the changes to the mining tax regime. We will restore industry and investor confidence, by ensuring the application rules are favourable, stable and foreseeable. We are maintaining the existing mining tax regime, in order to preserve that stability. At the same time, we will ensure that the mining regime remains competitive and fosters mining investment in Québec. In particular, we will see that the mining regime enables the growth of small companies and supports Québec ownership in the mining sector," emphasized the Minister.

A forest industry renewal plan
"More than ever, forestry is an engine of economic development for our regions. To foster sustainable development of Québec's forests and ensure lasting employment in the forest sector, in 2014-2015 the government will invest $570 million in silvicultural work and forest development and management. These measures will not only preserve Québec's forest heritage for future generations, but also stimulate economic activity in resource regions and improve the standard of living of our workforce," the Minister said.

He also announced an envelope of $20 million over three years to facilitate access to financing for forestry companies and cooperatives seeking to renew their equipment, as well as a $20-million fund to develop the residual forest biomass sector in Québec.

Development of electric power infrastructure
The Minister announced that the government will revive the program for small hydroelectric plants. "When all the conditions are right, these projects benefit first and foremost local communities. However, before obtaining a contract with Hydro-Québec, promoters will have to ensure that their project satisfies the most demanding environmental and social acceptability criteria in addition to generating economic spinoffs for the benefit of local and Aboriginal populations," he asserted.

The Minister also said that Hydro-Québec is planning the construction of a fourth power line from Northern Québec in order to better meet the growing demand for electricity north of the agglomeration of Montréal. The planned investment of $1.1 billion should create 1 000 jobs for five years. It will contribute directly to revitalizing economic activity, while ensuring the safe transmission and distribution of electricity.

Lastly, he announced that the government will continue the transportation electrification efforts of the previous two governments. For that purpose, it will table a bill allowing Hydro-Québec to invest in public transit electrification projects.

The Minister concluded by saying that "Québec has natural wealth that is the envy of many. We must make responsible, sustainable use of it to create jobs and boost economic growth."

SOURCE: Cabinet du ministre des Finances

For further information:

Andrée-Lyne Hallé
Press Relations Officer
Office of the Minister of Finance
418 643-5270
514 873-5363


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