Economy of Quebec

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Economy of Quebec [1][2]
CurrencyCanadian dollar (CAD)
April 1 to March 31
Trade organisations
GDPCAD$ 365.6 billion (2018)[3]
GDP per capita
CAD$ 52,384 (2018)[3]
Population below poverty line
Unemployment7.8 % (2012)[3]
Exports$147.6 billion (2008)
goods: 75.7 %
services: 24.3 %
international: 60.4 %
interprovincial: 39.6 %
Export goods
airplane parts
copper and alloys
Main export partners
United States (72.2%)
United Kingdom (2.6 %)
Germany (2.0 %)
France (1.9 %)
Netherlands (1.8 %)
Imports$167.0 billion (2008)
goods: 75.5 %
services: 24.5 %
international: 62.9 %
interprovincial: 37.1 %
Import goods
trucks and frames
Main import partners
United States (31.1 %)
China (8.3 %)
Algeria (8.1 %)
United Kingdom (7.9 %)
Germany (4.0 %)
Japan (4.0 %)

All values, unless otherwise stated, are in US dollars.
Bank of Montreal headquarters in Old Montreal's Place d'Armes
The headquarters of Air Canada

The economy of Quebec is diversified and post-industrial with an average potential for growth.[4] Manufacturing and service sectors dominate the economy. If Quebec were a country, its economy would be ranked the 33th largest in the world just behind Norway.[5] Quebec is also ranked the 21st largest in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The economy of Quebec represents 19.65% of the total GDP of Canada.[6]

Economic policies[edit]

Environmental and energy policy[edit]

Since 2006, Quebec has a green plan in order to achieve the objective of the Kyoto protocol on climate change.[7] The Ministère du Développement durable, de l'Environnement et des Parcs du Québec (Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks) is primarily responsible for implementing environmental policy. For its part, the Société des établissements de plein air du Québec (SEPAQ) is the lead agency for the management of national parks and wildlife reserves. Quebec currently protects nearly 8.12% (135,326 km2) of its territory.[8] The first protected area was the creation of Mt. Royal Park in 1876 followed by the Mont-Tremblant National Park in 1894.

The Quebec government has been working to introduce the electric car since 1994, including contributing financing for technologies such as the TM4 MФTIVE, an electric motor designed and manufactured in Quebec.[9] Hydro-Québec has recently tested more than 50 i-MiEV in order to gradually introduce the charging stations across the province. This is the largest pilot test of electric cars in Canada.[10] Quebec was the first province in Canada to allow the ZENN car to drive on the roads.[11] During the inaugural speech of 2011, Jean Charest announced five priorities for the next 30 years including the Plan Nord and called for a revolution in electric cars.[12][13]

On November 23, 2009, Premier Jean Charest announced targets for reducing greenhouse gases during the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. Quebec will cut its emissions by 20% by the year 2020 compared to international reference of 1990. On January 14, 2010, a new law came into force to reduce greenhouse gases from automobiles which represent 40% of Quebec GHGs.[14] This new law stipulates that car manufacturers serving the territory of Quebec must meet an emission ceiling of 187 grams of GHG/km or approximatively 7.7 L/100 km. This level must be reduced annually up to 127 grams of GHG/km or approximatively 5.3 L/100 km in 2016. These standards are as stringent as those in California (United States), according to the Government of Quebec.[15] The provincial government plans to offer up to $8,000 rebate towards the purchase of an electric car. The government hopes that by 2020, a quarter of cars purchased in Quebec will be electric.[16] The plan would position Quebec as a world leader in electrified transportation according to Jean Charest.[17]

Tata Indica EV engine bay featuring TM4 MФTIVE electric motor

Quebec became the first region in North America to set a carbon tax. Since 2007, consumers pay a special tax on gasoline.[18] Since July 2011, Quebec has imposed a carbon tax that affect more than 85% of industries in the province. This tax will be mandatory from 2013.[19] The sectors affected by this carbon tax will have to reduce their carbon dioxide below 25 000 kilotonnes per year. Only the forest industry, agriculture and waste industries are not affected by this tax.[20] In addition, the Quebec government plans to recover 60% of putrescible organic matter by 2015 in order to reduce its emissions.[21] Quebec climate policy has been harshly criticised by the federal government under Prime minister Stephen Harper. In 2010, former minister Jim Prentice has openly criticized Quebec's plan to set GHG standards for motor vehicles sold in the province, describing it as "lunatic".[22] However, ten months later, Prentice successor, John Baird, has praised Quebec as a world leader in GHG abatement.[23]

Most productive sectors[edit]


There are some 260 companies of the aerospace sector that employ 40,000 people. It includes aerospace companies such as airplane manufacturer Bombardier, jet engine companies Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce Canada, flight simulator builder CAE, defence contractor Lockheed Martin and L-3 Communications, and helicopter manufacturer Bell Helicopter. Various international organisations have established their headquarters in Quebec, notably the International Air Transport Association and the International Civil Aviation Organization.


The Finance, insurance, real estate and leasing industry employs 218,000 people,[24] including the largest money manager in Canada, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec.


Quebec's ground transportation industry generated $7.2 billion in revenue at the beginning of 2004. It employs some 35,000 people and includes major original equipment manufacturers such as Bombardier, Paccar, Nova Bus, Prévost CAR, Komatsu International, and many suppliers and sub-contractors.

Quebec has eight deepwater ports for merchandise shipping, and in 2003 9.7 million tons of merchandise was carried by 3,886 cargo ships through the Saint Lawrence Seaway. The income created by this traffic is over $90 million per annum.

The Port of Montreal is the second biggest container handling port in Canada. Located on one of the largest navigable rivers in the world, the Saint Lawrence River, it is the third largest port in northeastern North America. Annual revenues of about $2 billion are created, along with 17,600 direct and indirect jobs.

Besides Montreal, other deepwater ports are located in Trois-Rivières and Bécancour, as well as in Sorel-Tracy, Baie-Comeau, Port-Cartier and Sept-Îles. The last four ports specialise in handling bulk cargo and heavy merchandise.

Information technology[edit]

Quebec's information technology employed over 100,000 workers in 2008. Of the total Canadian venture capital funding 52% is managed in Quebec with 61% of available funds invested in technology. Sectors of note include telecommunications, multimedia software, computer services and consulting, microelectronics and components. Its largest city, Montreal, is also a global hub for artificial intelligence research with many companies involved in this sector, such as Facebook AI Research (FAIR), Microsoft Research, Google Brain, DeepMind, Samsung Research and Thales Group (cortAIx).[25][26]

Some 10,000 people work for 115 telecommunication companies such as Bell Canada, Ericsson, Motorola, and Mitec.

The multimedia sector was enhanced by Electronic Arts in 2003. Some 11000[27] people work for game development companies such as Ubisoft, Microïds, Strategy First, A2M, and Eidos Interactive.

Montreal has two major creators of 3D animation software: Softimage and Autodesk Media and Entertainment Division.

The computer services, software development, and consulting branch employs 60,000 specialized workers.

The microelectronics sector has 110 companies employing 12,900 people.

Optics and photonics[edit]

In 2004, some 8000 people were employed in the Quebec optics and photonics industries. Research-related jobs are concentrated chiefly in the seven Quebec City region research centres, while production operations are mostly located in the Greater Montreal area. Quebec counts some 20 businesses in the laser, optical fibre, image processing, and related sectors.


Quebec has some 130 companies employing 4700 people in the biotechnology industry. Some of the companies with facilities include Pfizer, Novartis and Merck-Frosst

Health industry[edit]

With 381 companies and 24,550 employees in the pharmaceutical, research and development, manufacturing, and related sectors, the Quebec health industry is one of the most important economic stimuli of modern Quebec. With the presence of some 20 multinationals such as Merck, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Aventis, Novartis, Valeant, Galderma. GlaxoSmithKline and Bristol-Myers Squibb, Montreal ranks eighth in North America for the number of jobs in the pharmaceutical sector.


Tourism plays an important role in the economy of Quebec. Tourism represents 2.5% of Quebec's GDP and nearly 400,000 people are employed in the tourism sector.[28] Nearly 30,000 businesses are related to this industry, of which 70% are located outside of Montreal and Quebec City.[29] In 2011, Quebec welcomed 26 million foreign tourists, most of them from the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Mexico and Japan.[28][30]

The province of Quebec has 22 tourist regions, each of which presents its geography, its history and culture. The capital, Quebec City, is the only fortified city in North America and has its own European cachet. The oldest Francophone city in North America, Quebec City was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985[31] and has celebrated its 400th anniversary in 2008. Montreal is the only Francophone metropolis in North America and also the second largest Francophone city after Paris in terms of population.[32] This major centre of 4 million inhabitants is a tapestry of cultures from the world over with its many neighbourhoods, including Chinatown, the Latin Quarter, the Gay Village, Little Italy, Le Plateau-Mont-Royal, the Quartier International and Old Montreal. Montreal has a rich architectural heritage, along with many cultural activities, sports events and festivals.

The province of Quebec has over 400 museums including the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, which is the oldest museum in Canada and one of the most important art institutions. It is Montreal's largest museum and is amongst the most prominent in Canada.[33]

Quebec is also a religious tourism destination.[34] The Basilique Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré and Oratoire Saint-Joseph du Mont-Royal are the most popular religious site in the province. In 2005, the Oratory was added to the List of National Historic Sites of Canada on the occasion of its 100th anniversary.[35] Quebec has over 130 church and Cathedrals. All of which bear witness to the many origins that colonized the region.[36]

In 2003, tourism-related expenditures amounted to C$7.3 billion. Some 27.5 million trips were made in Quebec, 76% of which were made by Quebecers themselves, 13% by other Canadians, 8% from the United States and 3% from other countries. Almost 330,000 people are employed in the tourism sector, working in over 34,000 businesses. Quebec is listed among the top 20 best tourist destinations in the world, and the City of Quebec is the only fortified city in North America north of Mexico.

The most visited cities are Montreal and Quebec City, although a sizeable number also visit the city of Gatineau in the west, which forms part of the federal National Capital Region (Ottawa).


Quebec is Canada's leader in hydroelectric energy production[37] (see: List of hydroelectric stations in Quebec). The Government of Quebec is the sole shareholder of Hydro-Québec, which employs 46,000 people. Government-owned Hydro-Québec has a virtual monopoly on the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity in Quebec. With 60 hydroelectric plants, Hydro-Quebec is the largest producer of electricity in Canada and the single largest hydroelectric generation company in the world[38][39] In 2010, the company owned a total generation capacity of 36,671 megawatts and sold 192.8 terawatt-hours of electricity.[40] Hydro-Québec not only generates and distributes electricity, it also does active research in energy-related fields and energy conservation.


A cornfield in Quebec

The combination of rich and easily arable soils and relatively warm climate make the St. Lawrence River Valley Quebec's most prolific agricultural area. It produces meat, dairy products, fruit, vegetables, foie gras, maple syrup (of which Quebec is the world's largest producer), fish, and livestock.


North of the St. Lawrence River Valley, the territory of Quebec has significant resources in its coniferous forests, lakes, and rivers. These include pulp, paper, and lumber.

The pulp and paper industries generate annual shipments valued at more than $18 billion. The forest products industry ranks second in exports, with shipments valued at almost $11 billion. It is also the main, and in some circumstances only, source of manufacturing activity in more than 250 municipalities in the province.

Quebec has renewable forest resources extending over an area of nearly 760,000 square kilometres (290,000 sq mi) and generating an annual allowable cut of about 55 cubic metres (72 cu yd) million.


Approximately 30 minerals are mined, with the most important being iron, gold, nickel, titanium, niobium, zinc, copper, silver, and stone. In 2010, the province was the largest producer of zinc in Canada and the second largest producer of gold and iron.[citation needed][41] The province is also the world's second-largest producer of niobium[42] and the third of titanium dioxide.[43] The province's first diamond mine is scheduled to commence operations in 2016.[citation needed] The province has 27 mines, around 200 exploration firms, and 12 primary processing plants. In 2010 the value of mineral shipments from the province was about $6.8 billion.

Imports and exports[edit]

Saint-Hyacinthe, in the Montérégie region, is the hub of the North American markets in the agro-alimentary, veterinary and environmental fields.

In 2008, Quebec exports elsewhere in Canada and in the world totaled 157.3 billion Canadian dollars, or 51.8% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Of this total, the share of international exports is 60.4% compared with 39.6% for interprovincial exports. The breakdown by destination of international exports of goods is: United States (72.2%), Europe (14.4%), Asia (5.1%) Middle East (2.7%), Central America (2.3%), South America (1.9%), Africa (0.8%) and Oceania (0.7%). In 2008, Quebec imports C$178.0 billion in goods and services, or 58.6% of GDP. International imports up 62.9% of the total compared with 37.1% for interprovincial imports. The breakdown by source of international merchandise imports is as follows: United States (31.1%), Europe (28.7%), Asia (17.1%), Africa (11.7%), South America (4.5%), Central America (3.7%), Middle East (1.3%) and Oceania (0.7%).

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), grants Quebec, among other things, the access to a market of 130 million consumers within 1,000 kilometres (620 mi).[44] With the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the NAFTA, Quebec is increasing its ability to compete internationally. Following these agreements, trade relations with other countries were boosted. As a result, Quebec has seen its exports increase significantly.[44]

In 2010, Quebec exports declined by 0.6% compared to previous years. Exports to the United States have remained fairly stable while those to Europe surged by 46.3% and sales to Asia were down 12.8%.[45] The unemployment rate in Quebec is around 7%.

Several prominent Quebec companies work within the international market: the producers of pulp and paper Cascades and AbitibiBowater, the milk producer Agropur, the manufacturer of transport Bombardier, the company of information technology CGI, the Cirque du Soleil, the convenience stores Couche-Tard, the Garda (security company), the energy distributor Gaz Métro, the marketing firm Cossette Communication Group, the media and telecommunications company Quebecor, the accounting firm Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton, the Saputo empire and the Vachon bakery, the engineering and construction group SNC-Lavalin, and more.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ ISQ. "Comparaisons économiques internationales Archived 2009-08-31 at the Wayback Machine" - "Profils économiques par pays et territoire Archived 2009-08-24 at the Wayback Machine" and "Tableaux comparatifs par indicateur Archived 2006-12-29 at the Wayback Machine", 2009-07-07.
  2. ^ ISQ. Le Québec chiffres en main, édition 2009 Archived 2011-05-15 at the Wayback Machine, Québec, Institut de la statistique du Québec, 2009, retrieved May 17, 2009.
  3. ^ a b c ISQ. "Comparaisons économiques internationales, Québec, Institut de la statistique du Québec, 2014, retrieved April 8, 2014
  4. ^ Scofield, Heather (08/04/2009). "Few bumps in la belle province's recession ride". Globe and Mail. Check date values in: |date= (help)[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ "Institut de la statistique du Québec" (PDF). Gouvernement du Québec. 3 October 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 November 2010.
  6. ^ "Le Québec : une économie dynamique". Gouvernement du Québec. 3 October 2010.
  7. ^ "Le Québec et les changements climatiques: un défi pour l'avenir. Plan d'action 2006–2012" (PDF).
  8. ^ Presse Canadienne. "Québec atteint son objectif" (in French). Radio-Canada online. Retrieved July 14, 2011.
  9. ^ Francoeur, Louis-Gilles (January 15, 2009). "Moteur-roue: Volvo dans les traces d'Hydro". Le Devoir (in French). Canada. Archived from the original on September 25, 2008. Retrieved October 9, 2010.
  10. ^ "Voitures électriques: un plan d'action dévoilé sous peu". Archived from the original on 2012-03-17. Retrieved 2014-03-30.
  11. ^ Crépault, Michel (July 24, 2008). "La ZENN sur les routes du Québec: 125 km/h dès l'automne 2009" (in French). Archived from the original on August 7, 2010. Retrieved July 14, 2011.
  12. ^ "LUne quinzaine de promesses de la part de Jean Charest".
  13. ^ "Discours inaugural: les 5 priorités de Jean Charest". Archived from the original on 2011-02-26.
  14. ^ "Lise Millette : GES: le Québec sera aussi sévère que la Californie à la mi-janvier | Environnement". Retrieved January 5, 2012.
  15. ^ "Émissions de GES des véhicules: Ottawa et Washington s'entendent". Retrieved February 23, 2011.
  16. ^ "Québec dévoile son plan d'action en matière de transport électrique". Radio-Canada. Retrieved April 7, 2011.
  17. ^ "Quebec champions electric cars Decade-long plan encourages Quebecers to consider investing in electric vehicles". CBC. April 7, 2011. Archived from the original on April 10, 2011. Retrieved April 7, 2011.
  18. ^ "Le Québec, société distincte". Radio-Canada. April 7, 2011. Retrieved October 1, 2007.
  19. ^ "GES: feu vert au plan de réduction". Le Devoir. Canada. April 7, 2011. Retrieved October 1, 2007.
  20. ^ "GES: les consommateurs devront payer plus, reconnaît Québec". Cyberpresse. July 6, 2011. Retrieved July 7, 2011.
  21. ^ "Montréal a identifié ses sites de compostage et de biométhanisation". Journal Métro. Archived from the original on July 27, 2011. Retrieved April 7, 2011.
  22. ^ "GES des véhicules: Québec crie victoire".
  23. ^ Radio-Canada. "Le ministre Baird lance des fleurs aux provinces" (in French). Radio-Canada online.
  24. ^ Statistics Canada
  25. ^ Lindeman, Tracey (May 9, 2017). "How Montreal became the world's leading AI and deep learning hub". Retrieved Sep 29, 2018..
  26. ^ High, Peter (Nov 6, 2017). "Why Montreal Has Emerged As An Artificial Intelligence Powerhouse". Retrieved Sep 29, 2018..
  27. ^ "The video game explosion | Investissement Québec". Retrieved 2019-12-19.
  28. ^ a b Le tourisme en chiffres édition 2010 (PDF). Gouvernement du Québec. March 31, 2011. Retrieved April 1, 2011.
  29. ^ "Tourisme au Québec". Retrieved February 23, 2011.
  30. ^ "TOURISTES97 ET DÉPENSES DES TOURISTES, 2008". Archived from the original on May 15, 2011. Retrieved February 23, 2011.
  31. ^ "Arrondissement historique du Vieux-Québec". UNESCO. Retrieved February 23, 2011.
  32. ^ "Montréal: City of festivals". QuebecOriginal. Archived from the original on August 15, 2010. Retrieved February 23, 2011.
  33. ^ "Museums and heritage sites The past is alive and well!". QuebecOriginal. Retrieved February 23, 2011.
  34. ^ "Religious and spiritual tourism in Québec: an action plan for marketing the four national sanctuaries of Québec". Retrieved February 23, 2011.
  35. ^ "The Government of Canada Commemorates the National Historic Significance of Saint Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal". marketwire. Retrieved February 23, 2011.
  36. ^ "A uniquely North-American Heritage". QuebecOriginal. Retrieved February 23, 2011.
  37. ^ Natural Resources Canada Archived 2008-12-11 at the Wayback Machine
  38. ^ Crooks, Ed (July 6, 2009). "Using Russian hydro to power China". The Financial Times LTD. Retrieved July 5, 2011.
  39. ^ "N.S., N.L. wary as Quebec exerts new power in region".
  40. ^ Hydro-Québec (2011a). Annual Report 2010 (PDF). Montreal. p. 3. ISBN 978-2-550-60869-1. ISSN 0702-6706. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-06-05. Retrieved March 23, 2011.
  41. ^ "Ministère de l'Énergie et des Ressources naturelles". MERN.
  42. ^ "Niobium (Columbium) and Tantalum Statistics and Information".
  43. ^ "Titanium Statistics and Information".
  44. ^ a b Quebec Institute of statistic & al. (2009). "Portail Québec, Importation et exportation 2008". Gouvernement du Québec. Retrieved April 25, 2010.
  45. ^ "Québec: légère baisse des exportations en 2010". Le Devoir. Canada. 2010. Retrieved February 23, 2011.

Further reading[edit]

  • Coleman, William D. "The Political Economy of Quebec." in Wallace Clement and Glen Williams, eds. The New Canadian Political Economy. (McGill-Queen's UP, 1989) pp. 160-79.
  • Haddow, Rodney. Comparing Quebec and Ontario: Political Economy and Public Policy at the Turn of the Millennium (University of Toronto Press 2015) online review
  • Polese, Mario. "Quebec's Entrepreneurial Revolution and the Reinvention of Montreal: Why and How It Happened." AEI Paper & Studies (American Enterprise Institute, 2020) online

External links[edit]