Today Quebec welcomes approximately 45,000 immigrants each year. With the province’s economy growing and the birth rate declining, immigration to Quebec can be expected to grow in the future. Immigrants come to Quebec each year from over 100 countries, which is a big contribution in driving the Quebec economy.
Quebec is Canada’s largest province with the population of approximately 8.215 million (Jul 1, 2014) people. Quebec is the only province whose official language is French.
Quebec is a vibrant multicultural province, also known as the “Europe of North America”. Quebec is also famous for its vast forests, rolling hills and countless waterways. In fact, Quebec has over 1,000,000 lakes and waterways, providing lots of fresh water than any other province.
The capital city is Quebec City, with a population of 700,000. Quebec is also home to Canada’s second largest city, and the second largest French speaking city in the world, Montreal (3.8 million people). Other major cities located in proximity to the St. Lawrence River, which links Quebec and Montreal to the Atlantic Ocean; include Hull-Gatineau (314,000), Trois-Rivieres (152,000), Sherbrook (202,000), and Chicoutimi-Jonquiere (158,000). Since the end of World War II, more than 700,000 immigrants from over 80 countries have moved to Québec, particularly to the multicultural city of Montreal.
The Province of Quebec is very rich in natural resources. Quebec produces more than a third of Canada’s pulp and paper products and a large percentage of its soft lumber. Quebec’s abundant hydroelectric generating capacity, the state-owned energy sector produces and sells large quantities of hydro-electricity to neighboring provinces and the United States, a field the province has acquired much expertise in. Agriculture revenue is also considerable in the province. International exports now account for 20 percent of the province’s gross domestic product.
Québec’s economy is highly developed and expanded. The province has 38th largest economy in the world. Quebec’s advanced manufacturing sector produces a wide variety of products for export, such as:
- Air traffic control equipment,
- Software, subway trains, helicopters,
- Compact disks,
- Air purifiers and toys.
The province’s commercial capital, Montreal has developed competitive industries in:
- Space and aeronautics,
- Transportation and
Montreal has also recently become known for its software startups, most notably with regards to the entertainment industry, and the city follows Vancouver as a major movie production center.
During the period of economic recession some major Canadian companies shifted headquarters away from Montreal. Quebec is steadily adding jobs and attracting new companies with its highly skilled workforce. The current unemployment rate is approximately 8%.
STANDARD OF LIVING
The average gross earnings for a family in Quebec are approximately $70,480 per year, just below Canadian average.
The province boasts an excellent standard of living, however, thanks to its affordable cost of living.
The cost of living in Quebec is lower than the Canadian average, particularly when it comes to housing.
Montreal is among the most affordable major cities in North America.
Though Quebec has among the highest provincial personal income tax rates at over 24%, these taxes translate into publicly provided services that contribute to high standards of living in the province. Publicly provided healthcare and heavily subsidized transportation, post-secondary education and cultural services ensure that all Quebeckers have access to these important contributors to a high standard of living. The federal tax rate is abated in Quebec, and the minimum wage is at $10.15/hr.
Quebec provides one of the most affordable housing markets in Canada. The average cost of a home in Montreal is $327,000, despite the city’s large population.
Quebec is home to one of the most affordable and comprehensive educational systems in North America. According to Canadian law, all Canadian citizens under the age of 20 are entitled to an education through the end of secondary school at no direct cost to the user. Quebec has publicly funded elementary and secondary schools in both French and English as the language of instruction.
Quebec has a unique public school system as most Canadian provinces offer publicly funded schools through to the end of Grade 12; Quebec’s secondary school students receive their diplomas after Grade 11. After completing secondary school, Quebec students may attend free pre-university or vocational programs through the province’s CEGEP (Collège d’Enseignement Général et Professionnel) system. These schools offer, with free tuition, either two-year pre-university programs or three-year vocational programs for diplomas. Quebec chose this structure for their educational system in order to ensure that at least some amount of post-secondary education is universally accessible.
The system of universities in Quebec offers world-class education in both official languages. Montreal has the highest percentage of university students in its population of any major North American city except Boston. McGill University and L’Université de Montreal are world famous for their scholarship and research, producing numerous Nobel prize winners. In addition, Concordia University and Bishop’s University, as well as L’école des Hautes Etudes Commerciales and L’Université de Laval, offer competitive and well-respected educational programs. The average yearly tuition paid by Quebec students is the lowest in Canada, and the province offers a number of generous student aid programs.
Healthcare in Quebec is universally available to all residents at no cost to the individual. The Quebec Health Care plan covers the full cost of all necessary medical services for all citizens and most permanent residents in Quebec, which provides:
- Doctor examinations,
- Medical testing,
- Emergency care,
- Hospital care and
- Emergency dental care.
SOME INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT QUEBEC
- Quebec City – not Montreal – is the capital of the province of Quebec.
- Only about 1.5% of the population speaks English. Over 95% of the population is French speaking. But more than a third of the population can speak both English and French.
- Quebec City is the only walled city north of Mexico. It has 4.6 kilometers of walls.
- The word “Kebec” is an Algonquin word meaning where the river narrows.
- Quebec City’s location is at the intersection of the St. Lawrence and the St. Charles River.
- Quebec City’s 400th anniversary was celebrated in 2008. It’s the oldest French speaking community in North America.
- The oldest part of Quebec City was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985.
- The population in 2011 of Quebec City was 516, 622. The metropolitan area has a population of approximately 765,706.
- Quebec City’s median age is 43.5 – the oldest median age of any major city in Canada.
- The city’s main event is the Quebec Winter Carnival which takes place every year in February. In 2013 it runs from February 1st to 17th.