Québec, May 9, 2011 – “The enhancement of living conditions in Aboriginal and local communities is a key concern under the Plan Nord. For this reason, we have made provision for initiatives in the realms of education, manpower, housing, health and social services, and culture, to foster community well-being and development,” Premier Jean Charest said.
“The North has abundant, varied resources, but its principal asset is its population, noteworthy for its youth and desire to develop its environment. The populations in the territory that the Plan Nord covers are young and make up a substantial labour pool. Our government believes that it is necessary to rely on occupational training to guarantee their social and economic development,” added Minister responsible for Native Affairs Geoffrey Kelley.
The gouvernement du Québec’s 2011-2016 action plan to implement the Plan Nord makes provision for investments totalling $1.6 billion. Of this amount, $382 million will be earmarked for essentially social measures, especially in the realms of housing, health, education, culture and the reduction in the cost of living.
The key challenges in the education sector are to raise the rate of school success and stabilize teaching and professional staff. To do so, the five-year action plan makes provision for the rebuilding and construction of service points, the adaptation of learning paths, and awareness-raising among young people of the importance of success, with the assistance of communities and businesses. New multi-purpose training centres will be built or renovated in occupational training service points.
Manpower training in the territory that the Plan Nord covers is crucial. Accordingly, the government will allocate $80 million over five years to better plan manpower needs and training. The determination of manpower needs, the development of worker skills, the establishment of training programs in the mining sector, the development of properly equipped training facilities, and the recruiting and hiring of trainers are part of the measures planned to meet the challenge. Businesses will be obliged to make provision for a manpower training plan.
The development of the North and the arrival of workers from outside the territory will certainly increase demand for housing. The government will support the communities affected by this challenge. Innovative partnerships will be established to satisfy new needs. Promoters will have to incorporate a housing component into their projects in order to broaden the reception capacity of communities.
In Nunavik, the shortage of public housing is apparent. To improve the situation, the government intends to invest in the construction of 840 housing units, i.e. 340 under a federal-provincial agreement, and 500 pursuant to the Plan Nord, and in the renovation of 482 dwelling units. Accordingly, over the next five years, it will invest $264.4 million to build, renovate and maintain housing.
Moreover, the government will seek to consolidate access to primary care services, foster the attraction and retention of staff, and also adapt its training to local conditions. It will do so through the improvement of local infrastructure, greater awareness of healthy lifestyles, the development of approaches adopted to the community, the development of community and health infrastructure, and the analysis of the impact on health of development projects.
The development of the North must also encourage the expression and development of the cultures of the communities found there. The government wishes to sign cultural cooperation agreements and build cultural and multi-purpose centres. It also intends to support permanent exhibitions devoted to Aboriginal culture.
Télé-Québec will produce a documentary series on the Plan Nord to enable Quebecers and the world to rediscover Northern Québec.