The implementation of a more restrictive plan to protect the boreal caribou could cost thousands of jobs in affected regions, reminds the MEI.

On Tuesday, the Quebec government promised to put in place an action plan—without providing any details—to favour better habitat protection for the boreal caribou, a species that is said to be directly threatened by the forestry industry.

“The absence of details accentuates the climate of uncertainty that has reigned for too long in the industry, discouraging investment. Although the Minister is trying to be reassuring, it is unlikely that that the implementation of a more restrictive plan will be compatible with the electoral promise not to sacrifice one job over the caribou question,” says Alexandre Moreau, Public Policy Analyst at the MEI.

The MEI demonstrated, in an Economic Note published in 2015, that if the government restricts forestry development even more to protect this animal, it risks sacrificing 2,931 jobs and $367 million of economic activity for the uncertain preservation of 96 caribou per year in Quebec.

A more restrictive plan to protect the caribou could significantly hurt a region like the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean, where the forestry sector in 2013 accounted for 10% of total employment and 14% of the region’s GDP. Losses attributable to this plan are estimated at 2,701 jobs and $339 million for the region.

A study commissioned by the Quebec government and recently made public is in keeping with this, confirming the loss of thousands of jobs in the event of more aggressive measures to protect caribou habitat.

“Moreover, even if we completely ceased all logging in the caribou’s range of distribution, it is entirely possible that downward population trends would continue because of factors like climate change, forest fires, insect epidemics, and poaching,” notes Jasmin Guénette, Vice President of the MEI.

The Economic Note entitled “The Economic Costs of the Boreal Caribou Recovery Plan” was prepared by Jasmin Guénette and Alexandre Moreau, respectively Vice President and Public Policy Analyst at the MEI. This publication is available on our website.

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The Montreal Economic Institute is an independent, non-partisan, not-for-profit research and educational organization. Through its studies and its conferences, the MEI stimulates debate on public policies in Quebec and across Canada by proposing wealth-creating reforms based on market mechanisms.