OECD Rural Policy Reviews

1990-9284 (online)
1990-9276 (print)
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This series presents comprehensive reviews of rural policy in individual countries as well as analytical reports on various aspects of rural policy.
Also available in French
OECD Rural Policy Reviews: Québec, Canada 2010

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07 June 2010
9789264082151 (PDF) ;9789264082144(print)

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OECD's review of rural policy in Quebec.  It finds that in rural Québec, both population and personal income are growing, on average, and the province’s economic base continues to diversify. Land occupancy is more homogenous than in the rest of Canada, due to the presence of denser networks of small and medium-sized communities. However, mirroring the situation at the national level, the province displays large regional disparities. The sustainability of some rural communities, especially if remote and resource-based, is challenged by demographic and economic decline. In this context, Québec has developed one of the most advanced rural policy approaches in the OECD, closely in line with the framework suggested in the OECD’s New Rural Paradigm. The province’s rural policy does not have a sectoral focus, and aims at community empowerment and land occupancy.  

To maximize returns on its rural policy investments, Québec needs to integrate social development more strongly with economic and entrepreneurial development, and further strengthen the supra-local level of government as the centre for rural and territorial development strategies. This should be combined with stabilisation measures in lagging areas, through the accumulation of human capital and enhanced access to land in predominantly rural territories. To address environmental challenges, natural resources should be protected both in the outskirts of metropolitan zones and in remote areas.  

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  • Acronyms and abbreviations
  • Executive summary
    Canada has the OECD’s largest rural area. More than 90% of its territory is predominantly rural. However, only 29% of the national population lives in predominantly rural territories. The geographic concentration of population contributes to a large and widening rural-urban split and increasing regional disparities. Although the strategy of reducing rural-urban disparities by supporting primary activities is no longer effective, given the large reductions in jobs in this sector and ongoing structural and cyclical crises, Canada and most of its provinces continue to invest heavily in the primary sector, with a view to saving rural areas.
  • Assessment and recommendations
    On average, rural Québec is attracting new residents.1 In the rest of Canada the rural population decreases and population in urban regions increases at twice the OECD average, but in Québec the trend is closer to the international average (Figure 0.1). The spatial distribution of population in Québec is different from that of Canada. It is based on relatively large networks of small cities located in rural regions, while Canada overall displays a high concentration of population in larger urban areas. Thus, the province does not display the large rural-urban split that characterises the rest of Canada. Rural Québec as a whole has actually gained population since the end of the 1990s, owing to the concentration of people in accessible rural areas close to urban nodes and metropolitan regions. As in other Canadian provinces, these territories display the highest growth rates in terms of population within Québec.
  • Trends, perspectives and policies for rural Canada
    This chapter broadly discusses socioeconomic conditions in rural Canada and briefly introduces the national strategy to promote rural development. After introducing a regional typology, it benchmarks Canadian rural areas against other OECD rural regions in terms of economic competitiveness. Section 1.1 focuses on demographic trends, and sections 1.2 and 1.3 discuss rural-urban linkages and social well-being in the country. Sections 1.4 and 1.5 describe the economic framework and environmental challenges in rural Canada. Finally, section 1.6 presents the main challenges for rural development, introduces the national strategy to promote rural development, and discusses some of the limitations of the Canadian approach.
  • Economic profile of rural Québec
    This chapter provides a socioeconomic assessment of rural Québec. The first section presents a regional typology of the province’s rural areas. Next, it focuses on the source of economic competitiveness in rural territories: the productive framework, the labour market and the sectoral contribution to the rural economy. It then focuses on the social well-being of rural Québécois, with an emphasis on service delivery. Finally, it discusses the main challenges to the sustainability of rural communities in Québec.
  • Assessment of rural policy in Québec
    This chapter assesses provincial policies targeting rural development and features good practices introduced to cope with the rural development challenges in Québec. The first section presents the evolution of rural policy in Québec. The next section assesses the policies and governance arrangements put in place under the province's Politique nationale de la ruralité (national policy on rurality). The final section broadens the policy assessment to include sectoral policies implemented by the provincial government that affect rural development.
  • Policy recommendations
    This chapter addresses the critical issues discussed in Chapter 3. It puts forward policy recommendations and provides additional information on current good practice in Québec and specific international examples which show how other countries are coping successfully with challenges similar to those in Québec.
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