Québec City’s Economic and Social Profile – An Opinion

Québec City’s Economic and Social Profile – An Opinion


When most people think of Quebec City, they almost immediately think of our status as a seat of the provincial government and its administrative apparatus. We also think of Quebec’s historic position as a fortified city, with its Old World charm to be found within the walls of the Old Town, and its accompanying mother lode of tourist dollars which flow into the city every year. We might also think of Quebec City as a festival town, with world class festivals and events in the fields of comedy, popular and military music, fireworks, as well as the New France Festival, the Winter Carnaval, and the now ever more popular Red Bull Crashed Ice skating race. 

Many are also beginning to see Quebec City as a centre for expertise in learning as well as research and development in science and technology, with a full service University, in the form of Laval University, which has over 30 000 full and part time students in a wide range of faculties, including Law, Medicine, Engineering, Liberal Arts, Pure and Applied Sciences, Theology, Agriculture, Philosophy, as well as virtually every social science or humanities course of study imaginable, including education, communications, music, and theatre. 

This university has begun to earn an increasingly international reputation for attracting world-class researchers and research money in fields related to optics and photonics, pharmaceuticals, high-tech materials, the life sciences, as well as many other fields. It is affiliated with at least three major teaching hospitals in the greater Quebec city region, the CHUQ, or Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Quebec, which regroups the CHUL hospital, (Centre Hospitalier de l’Université Laval), as well as the Hôtel Dieu hospital, and the Saint François D’Assise Hospital. 

The first of these institutions is best known for its ‘Centre Mère Enfant’, which is the principal place where Mothers now give birth in the area, and has the region’s best neo-natal facilities. The Hôtel Dieu, on the other hand, is better known as the region’s best oncology centre for fighting cancer. St. François D’Assise is also a full-service hospital, and also is well-known for delivering babies.

The second major university teaching hospital, which is also affiliated with Laval, is the CHA, or Centre Hospitalier Affilié, which regroups the Enfant Jésus hospitals and the St. Sacrement hospitals. Both of these are well-known for their ophthalmological care, while the former is home to the region’s best trauma unit.

Another hospital affiliated with Laval is the Laval hospital itself, now known as the Institut Universitaire de Cardiologie et de Pneumologie de Québec, which is the main heart and lung unit in the area, and accepts patients from all over eastern Québec, even from other parts of Canada. It does heart and lung surgeries, bypass operations, treadmill tests, sleep lab tests for sleep apnea, etc…

We also have top-notch psychiatric care in Québec city, which is also affiliated with Laval University. It is called the Institut Universitaire en Santé Mentale de Québec, formerly known as the Centre Hospitalier Robert Giffard. This institution provides quality inpatient and outpatient care for mental health patients who live with the full range of mental health issues.

Lastly, there is the hospital which services the English-speaking community as well as the communities on the south shore of the city. First of all there is the Jeffery Hale Hospital. It provides basic emergency services to the entire population until 8 PM, with a particular mandate to serve the English-speaking community. A certain limited number of diagnostic services are available there. It merged recently with two other institutions, and is now part of a greater unit which includes the Jeffery Hale Community Services, which is the main primary service provider for social services to the English-speaking community in the region, and St. Brigid’s home, which is what is known as a CHSLD, or Centre Hospitalier de Soins de Longue Duré, otherwise known as a public nursing home for the elderly, which also has a mandate to serve English-speaking people.

As for the south shore, there is the Centre Hospitalier Affilié Universitaire Hôtel Dieu de Lévis, which is also affiliated with Laval University, and is the main full service hospital on the south shore, there also being the Centre Hospitalié Paul Gilbert, which is a smaller outfit in Charny.

Quebec City is also home to several community colleges, which offer a wide range of pre-university and vocational training. These are known as CEGEPs, or Collège d’Enseignement Générale et Professionelle, or in English, Colleges of General and Vocational Education. Among them are College de Ste-Foy, François-Xavier Garneau, St. Lawrence Campus of Champlain Regional College, which is the sole English-language institution of higher learning in the area, as well as Collège de Limoilou, which has two campuses, one in Limoilou itself, and one in Charlesbourg. In addition, there are several other CEGEPS both on the north and south shores of the city. 

Quebec City is also a municipality which is heavily influenced by the federal government presence. We have several federal institutions worthy of mention in our region: The Valcartier military base, with its important Defence Research Establishment, as well as munitions manufacturing facilities located nearby, as well as the Port of Québec, which is one of the region’s best-kept secrets when it comes to promoting economic activity in our city. 

Canadian Forces Base Valcartier was first opened during the Great War of 1914-18, and has been in use ever since. It is home to several Armed Forces units, which number in hundreds of men and women, some of whom are currently deployed overseas in Afghanistan in our ongoing mission there. Cutting edge and often top secret military research is conducted there, and munitions such as bullets and artillery shells are manufactured in plants not far away and are used by our forces, as well as being exported to many countries overseas.

As for the Port, it is a multi-faceted place of business, generating tens of millions of dollars in economic activity every year, and is able to take in bulk cargo vessels which are greater in size than those that dock at Montréal. Our port is a very important trans shipment facility, spanning a large area on both the north and south shores, taking in and shipping out everything from raw sugar, coal, iron pellets, petroleum products, (at the Ultramar refinery on the south shore), chemical agricultural fertilizers, sulphur, and so on.

We’re also a very popular destination in the months of September and October for cruise ships which go from Québec city to places such as Sydney N.S., and down to Boston, NYC, and on to Florida and back. Our facility is clean, modern, and up to date, and boasts excellent facilities for passengers to embark and disembark, as well as fine international dining at the famous Café du Monde restaurant, overlooking the St. Lawrence River.

Quebec City’s federal government facilities are rounded out by a whole series of parks, green spaces, and historic sites, including the Citadel fortress, the Plains of Abraham, the fortifications, Artillery Park, Cartier-Bréboeuf Park, the Martello Towers, Fort no. 1 in Lévis, the Discovery Pavillon, the Chateau and Fort St. Louis, and so on.

Quebec being the capital of the Province of Quebec, the Quebec Capital Commission , along with the Quebec government, also have laid out a whole series of parks, green spaces, and attractions for locals and visitors alike, including the Champlain Promenade, which is a gorgeously-laid out bike and walking path running along the shores of the St. Lawrence River. There’s also the Capital Observatory, up above the Marie Guyart building, which is the highest in town, and where you can get a bird’s eye view of the entire area from over 30 storeys up. Coming soon out in Cap Rouge will be the Cartier-Roberval historic site, which is an archaeological dig, being excavated by the Québec government, and which will soon be open to the public, describing the first unsuccessful attempts at colonizing Canada by France, in the early to mid 1500s. 

All in all, the economic and social profile of Quebec City has changed dramatically in just the last twenty to thirty years. So much time and effort and money has been put into making this place a top-notch place to live and work. Let’s only hope that all three levels of government can continue to cooperate with each other, and not go back to their old ways of the 1960s-1990s, of federalist-secessionist bickering over differing visions of nation-building. We need commuter trains, trams, and a new multi-purpose amphitheatre: We don’t need the likes of Pauline Marois coming back on the scene with her lot of Péquistes and throwing a spanner into the works again for all of us. 

So here’s to thinking of Quebec City as something beyond a seat of government. We can make it a truly great Québécois, Canadian, North American, and International city if we really want to.

Let’s ‘break out’ of our ‘fortified walls’ and go conquer the world, instead of harping on how somebody else from somewhere else in the world once came and ‘conquered us’. Who’s ‘us’, anyways? As far as I’m concerned ‘Je me souviens’ that I was born under the Fleur de Lys of France, grew up under the Rose of England, and came to be reconciled and united ,once and for all, under the maple leaf of CANADA, the big village: A Mari Usque ad Mare. From sea to sea to sea, ceci est mon country, mon ami! 

Amen to that.

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