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Investing in Québec

Is your business growing in a fast-paced, competitive environment? Are you looking for a place where you can increase your productivity?

Québec’s strategic location in North America, modern transportation networks, thriving business environment and advantageous tax policies make it a great place to invest, and to start and operate a business.

Businesses in Québec benefit from its rich physical and socio-cultural environment. It has a number of key advantages that promote innovation and development.

Geographic Location 


Québec’s geographic location is nothing short of ideal. With the United States just next door, and all of the benefits of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), Québec has access to a market of over 500 million consumers in a 1,000 km radius.

Montreal is close to major cities including Toronto, New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago.

The St. Lawrence River, one of the world’s largest navigable waterways, facilitates the import and export of goods into the heart of the North-American continent. It flows over 1,200 km from west to east before reaching the Atlantic.

Territory 


Québec covers a territory that is three times the size of France. It is land of wide open spaces, monumental forests, more than a million lakes and waterways, and abundant natural resources.

Québec has 17 administrative regions. The diversity of resources available in each region means that businesses in different regions have distinct advantages and can offer a variety of goods and services.
 

Population 


Québec has a population of over 8.4 million.

With nearly 2 million inhabitants, Montreal is home to the majority of Québec’s population. The next biggest cities are the capital, Québec City, home to 540,000, followed by Laval, Gatineau and Longueuil.

One of Québec’s greatest treasures is its ethnocultural diversity (in French only), which is at the heart of its plural society.

Every year, Québec welcomes an average of 50,000 immigrants from hundreds of countries—Asian and African countries in particular. There are francophones, anglophones and speakers of other languages throughout the province.

The official language of Québec is French. The Government of Québec and its institutions are secular.


Living Conditions  


Québec is one of the most livable places in the world. It has one of the lowest costs of living in any industrialized country. The quality of life, of services and of the environment, combined with very low crime rates and the protection of fundamental rights such as freedom of expression and equality between individuals make Québec a highly desirable place to settle.
 

Education System


Québec has one the best education systems in the world. It boasts an entirely secular public system that offers free primary and secondary schooling to all Québec residents and its university tuition fees are among the lowest in North America.

Québec has one of the best high school graduation rates in the world, scoring well-above average among the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member countries. Québec has 19 university-level educational institutions (in French only).
 

Healthcare Services


In Québec, healthcare is universal. The province supports public health insurance and prescription drug plans so that all residents of Québec have access to free hospital services and certain prescription drugs.

Québec’s business environment is thriving. Tax incentives and favourable export conditions strengthen Québec’s diverse markets and allow it to play a major international role in many leading industries. Québec’s has one of the lowest tax rates on commercial profit in North America.

Québec also benefits from trade agreements with important economic partners, which translates into major advantages on the global stage. What’s more, its workforce and research and development networks rank among the world’s best.

 

Banking System 


Québec has a solid regulatory, control and compensatory infrastructure that ensures the stability, growth and competitiveness of its financial institutions. There are a number of stable and internationally competitive institutions that provide investors with the products and services they need.
 

Exports 


Québec has an ever-evolving industrial structure that keeps it up to speed with the most beneficial global export trends. More than 70% of Québec’s international exports are destined for the United States.

More information on Québec exports is available in our Exports section (in French only) and on the Export Québec website.
 

Innovation and Research and Development 


Research and development (R&D) is a priority in Québec: 29% of all Canadian industrial R&D expenditures are made in Québec. The province’s research network includes several centres of excellence working to create innovative products and services.

Whether public or private, these centres of excellence carry out their mandates in close collaboration with private businesses and contribute to moving Québec’s key industries forward.

R&D activities in Québec are eligible for certain tax credits. A number of Québec companies have decided to form precompetitive research consortiums, thanks in part to government encouragement in the form of some the most generous tax credits in the world.

Operation Costs 


Doing business in Québec increases your ability to compete on a global scale, as the province has some of the lowest operating costs in North America.

At a glance:

  • Labour costs are significantly lower, they average 34% less than in the United States;
  • Annual office rent is 51% lower than in the United States and is also lower than elsewhere in Canada, in Italy and in Germany;
  • Energy rates are among the most stable in North American and the lowest in G7 countries.

What’s more, a number of investment incentives are available to lower your operating costs.

The 2016 edition of KPMG’s Competitive Alternatives study on business start-up and operating costs confirmed that cities in Québec are among the top-rated locations for establishing a business in North America.

 

Taxation 


Québec has one of the world’s most competitive tax systems. The corporate tax rate (26.8% in 2017) will be gradually lowered until 2020. This low tax rate encourages businesses, particularly those in the manufacturing sector, to get started and stay in Québec. What’s more, there are credits available for foreign taxes paid under Canada and Québec’s tax regimes.

For more information, consult the document Taxation in Québec 2018 (PDF, 1.8 MB).
 

Trade Agreements 


Québec is part of the World Trade Organization. It is strategically positioned in international markets thanks to a range of trade agreements (in French only), including the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Agreements have also been signed with other countries, including South Korea and India.

Not only do these agreements make markets more accessible and facilitate increased exchange volumes, they also allow businesses to achieve economies of scale, and they foster innovation and the creation of wealth.
 

Transportation Network 


Thanks to its transportation infrastructure, Québec is a gateway to the Americas.

  • Air Transportation
    Québec has three international airports, 82 regional airports and 45 carriers serving some 140 domestic and international destinations every week.
     
  • Rail Transportation
    Québec’s reliable rail system links it to the greater North American rail network, and its network of over 36 specialized intermodal terminals makes it possible for container trains to travel to a host of major cities. Québec’s rail infrastructure belongs in large part to two major Canadian rail carriers:
    • Canadian National (CN), which has a network that covers a large part of Québec and Canada;
    • Canadian Pacific (CP), which, in Québec, operates only in the Greater Montreal Area, linking it with other large urban centres.
       
  • Maritime Transportation
    Located on the St. Lawrence River, one of the world’s major navigable waterways, the Port of Montréal is one of the world’s busiest ports. It’s also the biggest container port in all of eastern Canada. Every year, some 110 million tonnes of goods are transhipped in Québec’s ports.
     
  • Ground Transportation
    Québec has a road network that covers some 185,000 km, and several border crossings that give it direct access to big American cities. The simplicity of moving people and goods throughout the network and to the United States allows businesses to optimize their efficiency. There is a Canada-U.S. border located only 45 minutes from Montréal.

 

Venture Capital 


If you’re starting your business and looking for venture capital (in French only) financing, Québec is the place to be.

In 2016, Québec had the second-highest levels of venture capital investment in Canada, with nearly 30% share of all of such investments. When it comes to Canadian cities, Montréal had the second-highest levels of venture capital investment.

There has been a significant increase in investment in the information technology sector. Some 42% of all venture capital investments were made in this sector.
 

Workforce 


Québec has one of the largest pools of trained and qualified workers in Canada and one of the highest enrolment and graduation rates out of any Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development member. Montréal is home to the largest pool of new graduates in Canada and 31% of the country’s industrial research and development (R&D) workforce is located in Québec.

For more information Québec’s education system, consult the document Education in Québec, an Overview (PDF, 3.9 MB).

 

If you’ve got an investment project in mind, Québec has services to help you make it a reality. There are organizations that can provide you with information about industries, assistance programs and the different kinds of financial support available for investors.

  • The Ministère de l'Économie et de l'Innovation provides information about entrepreneurship, Québec’s venture capital industry and potential investors. It also offers a number of training opportunities.
  • Investissement Québec has programs that help businesses implement their investment projects and provides development capital to businesses looking to invest in Québec. Investissement Québec has offices worldwide, in major cities such as London, Munich, New York, Paris, Beijing and Tokyo. Its team of experts can help you at every stage of your business’s development.
  • Montréal International, Québec International and other non-profit organizations promote economic development and support businesses in their respective regions.

Québec is represented throughout the world at different service locations. Québec is represented abroad by its departments and agencies, which can help you with your immigration process and your investment projects.

Of the departments and agencies that could be most helpful, we suggest you take a look at the Ministère des Relations internationales et de la Francophonie—its delegations abroad offer services in a variety of sectors (economy, immigration, etc.).

Have you decided to immigrate to Québec and do business here? The Gouvernement du Québec, which is responsible for selecting business immigrants, has outlined a 7-step process to give you an overview of what you’ll need to do. The steps can be completed in the order that works best for you. What’s more, they’ve prepared a list with the 5 important steps to follow to complete the step, «Applying as a business immigrant». Once you have been accepted as a candidate, you will be authorized to immigrate to Québec.

A wide range of practical information and advice about immigrating to Québec can be found in the guide S’installer au Québec (in French only). It contains information about the programs and services offered by Gouvernement du Québec departments and agencies and allows you to generate a list of steps to take upon your arrival by using the parcours personnalisé service (in French only).

You can also check out the tools that the Ministère de l'Immigration, de la Francisation et de l'Intégration provides for people who want to settle in Québec. Their website can tell you which important documents you will need to get before leaving and what steps to take when you first arrive in Québec. They also offer a handy checklist.

Once you have settled in Québec, you will have access to several resources (in French only) for newcomers looking to get started in business: support networks, financing opportunities, and assistance services, etc.

Québec’s recognized expertise in several industries is at the heart its vibrant and thriving economy and its leading position in the global market.

Learn more on the Ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation’s website, where you’ll find information on each industry sector in which Québec excels (in French only). The site contains business and association directories, publications, contact information, and announcements about exciting upcoming events.
 

Aerospace 


Québec is leading the way in Canada’s aerospace sector: in 2016, over 50% of Canadian production happened here. There are a variety of firmly established companies offering the subcontracting services required by internationally renowned businesses in Montréal, which is the world’s second biggest aeronautics hub.

In 2016, more than 80% of all Québec aerospace production was exported.

The aerospace industry workforce is specialized, and Québec’s wide range of educational institutions offering aerospace and aeronautics programs means that it can meet industry needs and stand out as a prime location for businesses interested in the sector.

More than 39,130 people are employed in this sector.

Find out more: Stratégie québécoise de l'aérospatiale 2016-2026 (in French only)
 

Agrifoods 


The agri-food industry is made up of different sectors, including agriculture, fishing and aquaculture, food and beverage processing, food trade and commerce, and food service. The processing sector is Québec biggest manufacturing employer and represents 6.7% of the province’s gross domesctic product (GDP).

Québec is Canada’s largest milk, pork and veal producer and more than two-thirds soy produced in Québec for human consumption is exported. The province is recognized as a world leader in food traceability and safety.

For more information, consult the document Activité bioalimentaire au Québec en 2015 – Bilan et perspectives (in French only) published by the Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation.

Find out more: Politique bioalimentaire 2018-2025 (in French only)
 

Ground Transportation 


Québec’s ground transportation industry includes a number of distinguished global leaders. Ground transportation companies in Québec have the major advantage of easy access to suppliers thanks to the large number of active manufacturers in the province. Original equipment, replacement parts and industrial materials are all readily available.

There are approximately 650 businesses and 31,000 quality jobs in Québec’s ground transportation industry.

Find out more: Joining forces for a sustainable energy future 2018-2023 energy transition, innovation and efficiency master plan (in French only).
 

Information and communications technology 


Québec’s thriving information and communications technology (ICT) sector is constantly moving forward thanks, in part to the exceptional conditions the province offers high-tech companies.

There are 7,800 companies in the industry and nearly 255,900 jobs in its diverse sectors.
 

Software Development and Publishing


The software industry helps organizations and businesses in other sectors create, perform and compete.

There are some 280 businesses specialized in software development and publishing established in Québec. They include international leaders like CGI, Hewlett Packard, IBM and Oracle and general a nearly $1.7 billion in revenue.
 

Artificial Intelligence


Montréal is now a major hub for artificial intelligence (AI) research, and it’s AI ecosystems is thriving.

McGill University and Université de Montréal have more than 250 researchers and doctoral students in fields related to artificial intelligence. Altogether, they form the largest AI academic community in the world.
 

Microelectronics


Québec has Canada’s most active microelectronics sector. One hundred businesses are involved in activities related to semi-conductors, circuit design and specialized system development, testing, production and assembly.

More than 8,300 people are working towards making Québec a world microtechnology leader.
 

Multimedia


Québec’s multimedia industry has over 80 companies specialized in game development, editing, production services and software and middleware development.

Montréal is the world’s fifth-largest video game centre, after Tokyo, London, San Francisco and Austin. Québec-made games including Assassin’s Creeds, Deus Ex and the Prince of Persia series are well-known across the world.

Every year, more than 6,100 students graduate from Québec’s acclaimed educational institutions with degrees in computer science and multimedia-related fields. Québec also offers one of the most generous tax credits for the multimedia industry in the world—credits can cover up to 37.5% of labours costs.
 

Optics-photonics


The optics-photonics industry is booming and this technology is becoming increasingly important in a wide range of fields.

The strength of Québec’s industry is reinforced by the presence of international research centres that help companies develop, improve and compete. The head of the Canadian network, the Canadian Institute for Phototonic Innovations, and three world-class research centres are located in Québec.
 

Consulting Services


The consulting services industry includes a wide range of specialized services in many different fields: computer science and software design, management, science and technology, environment and more. Computer science and software design is the industry’s largest sector. Most companies in this field are based in the greater Montréal area and design vertical and generic software applications.
 

Telecommunications


Québec’s telecommunications industry is at the forefront of innovation. In Québec, there are over 500 companies and 38,000 private sector jobs in this strong and dynamic industry. Most companies are located in Montreal and benefit from the presence of multiple renowned research centres. The industry generates nearly $12 billion dollars annually.
 

Life Sciences 


Québec is a major life sciences cluster in North America. Organizations in this field are active in basic research, manufacturing, biotechnology, contract research and medical technology. No fewer than 12 international pharmaceutical companies have chosen Québec as the site for their Canadian headquarters.

Québec’s life sciences industry is made up of over 450 companies and employs 10,000 researchers and 25,000 skilled workers.

Renowned research centres (in French only) such as the Institut de recherche en biotechnologie and the McGill University and Génome Québec Innovation Centre contribute to burgeoning research in this industry sector. Québec is home to world-class researchers.

What’s more, four Québec universities—Université de Montréal, Université Laval, McGill University and l’Université de Sherbrooke—boast solid reputations in biopharmaceutical and medical programs.
 

Mining and Metallurgy 


Québec covers over 1.7 million km². With only 1% of this vast territory currently being mined and a mere 5% covered by mining rights, the province’s mineral potential is ripe for exploration and development. Copper, nickel, zinc, silver, diamonds, lithium, gold, iron and uranium can all be found in Québec, and mining giants from around the world—China, India, Norway, Switzerland and more—have invested in the province.

Québec is an international leader in several aspects related to metallurgy. The province is the world’s second largest producer of niobium, an essential component in modern steel, and is Canada’s top iron producer. Québec is also a world leader in geoscientific data acquisition.

Ressources Québec, is an Investissement Québec subsidiary that provides financing solutions and support for companies with projects in resource exploration, development and processing.

The Gouvernement du Québec’s departments and agencies have designed a variety of tools to help you get the information you need. These tools can help you discover the advantages of investing in Québec.

Here are a few handy resources:

  • This is Québec, the official website of Québec abroad, with information for foreigners looking to immigrate, study, invest, do business and more in Québec.
  • The guide to settling in Québec, S’installer au Québec (in French only), on the Québec.ca website.
  • The publication, Québec Handy Numbers, from the Institut de la statistique du Québec.
  • The Businesspeople section on the Ministère de l'Immigration, de la Francisation et de l'Intégration website.
  • The Living in Québec section on the Ministère de l'Immigration, de la Francisation et de l'Intégration website.
  • The video Plan d’action personnalisé (in French only), created by the Ministère de l'Immigration, de la Francisation et de l'Intégration for people getting ready to immigrate to Québec.
  • The Why Québec? section on the Investissement Québec website.
  • The Québec Business portal and the publication Québec Panorama (PDF, 5.2 MB) from the Ministère des Relations internationales et de la Francophonie.
  • The guide to entrepreneurship in Québec, Entreprendre au Québec (in French only), on the Immigrant Québec website.


 

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