2020, A YEAR OF RESILIENCE FOR THE PORT OF QUÉBEC
Québec City, June 4, 2021 – At the annual public meeting of the Québec Port Authority (QPA) held virtually yesterday, the organization recapped a 2020 fiscal year marked by the pandemic. The Port of Québec and its partners were able to continue operations and keep supply chains moving by tapping into their resilience and adapting. In addition to helping sustain the local economy, the Port of Québec wanted to do its part to support the well-being of the community during a difficult year.
In 2020 the Port of Québec posted a slight decrease in tonnage with a total of 26.8 million tonnes of merchandise handled compared to 29.0 million in 2019. The small 7% decline is mainly due to the economic slowdown and a reduction in petroleum product consumption. For the same period, figures for goods in other sectors were up, notably for construction merchandise such as gypsum and cement. Agrifood traffic jumped 35%, helping offset the downturn in other categories.
Disrupted but essential activities
The economic slowdown worldwide (-4.2%) and in North America ushered in plenty of uncertainty all year long. Nonetheless, the impact on all Port operations was relatively modest and mostly affected specific sectors. When all is said and done, 2020 taught us that ports are a major strategic asset for economies at the municipal, provincial, and federal levels.
At the height of the pandemic, QPA and its partner operators were able to keep supply chains and logistics running smoothly. QPA teams were not only nimble in their response but they also doubled down on their efforts with port users to make sure regional supply chains stayed intact throughout.
In a brief overview of this essential supply chain, it is worth highlighting several key industrial port players. Sollio worked tirelessly at its fertilizer import terminal that serves all the farmland on the south shore of Québec City and in the eastern part of the province, to maintain the food supply for Quebecers. Another major player, QSL, transshipped various types of merchandise, including sugar for the biggest plant in Canada, and played a vital role in supplying mines in the far north. Also noteworthy are the vast terminals operated by G3 and Sollio for exporting Canadian grain across the globe and the terminal operated by Béton Provincial, which runs one of the biggest cement import terminals in the world, providing construction sites throughout Québec with an essential raw material. We also recognize Glencore for its nickel supply chain operations. The metal is exported to Norway where Glencore processes it and then ships it back to Québec mostly as surgical instruments and components for technical devices such as cellphones.
And the list goes on for many other basic commodities we rely on every day. Looking back, 2020 reminded us that a port is a major strategic asset for the economy and a pillar of growth and development for cities, provinces, and countries.
“For our teams at the Port and our partners, being part of the essential supply chain for Québec, Canada, and North America took on a whole new meaning. It became a big responsibility that each player in the port and maritime industry executed methodically and diligently. Today more than ever, the Port is a pillar, a reassuring presence at the heart of our economy, our society, and our daily life,” said Mario Girard, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Québec Port Authority.
The absence of cruises and other business activities, including the many events the Port typically hosts, affected our bottom line in 2020. But the economic fallout hit the tourism industry even harder, and QPA remains committed to supporting local tourism.
Laurentia deepwater container terminal project
Together with partners Hutchison Ports and CN, the Port of Québec is developing the Laurentia project, poised to become the greenest container terminal in North America. Based on the process used by the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (IAAC), QPA has introduced numerous improvements and environmental advances to address issues and concerns. Laurentia is based on the following four principles:
• It is a strategic infrastructure project with benefits that far outweigh the direct spin-offs of building and operating a container terminal.
• The Laurentia ecosystem will drive innovation in our knowledge economy and is a welcome and unprecedented opportunity for our exporters in eastern and central Quebec.
• Laurentia’s far-reaching socioeconomic impact has inspired the silent majority to lend discrete but strong support to the project.
• Laurentia is categorical proof that economic development can go hand in hand with environmental protection.
The economic and strategic importance of Laurentia has been demonstrated time and time again. The project has strong support from businesses of all sizes and in all sectors, from 188 cities and municipalities, from the Huron-Wendate Nation, and from the public. According to the most recent Léger survey, 70% of the population is in favour of the project. Moreover, the Port also has support from Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec, which represents 50,000 businesses affiliated with 130 regional chambers of commerce, and from Corporation des parcs industriels du Québec, which represents 26,170 industrial business members in 17 administrative regions in Québec.
Committed to the community
From the outset of the pandemic, QPA wanted to lend a hand to frontline community organizations. It quickly put together a team of volunteer employees equipped with vehicles to help organizations deliver food staples to families and individuals in need. QPA also provided food storage space at the Ross Gaudreault Cruise Terminal. The team of QPA volunteers worked regularly with some 20 organizations between March and August 2020. In all, our community involvement adds up to 765 hours of volunteering, 5,000 km travelled, and 3 vehicles made available to local organizations.
Despite a year hit hard by the pandemic and an economic slowdown in the transportation industry driven by global lockdowns, the Port’s finances have remained sound. The Port of Québec is a key link in the Québec and Canadian supply chain and is committed to maintaining its competitiveness and appeal to pursue its mission and role as a major strategic asset for the economies of Québec City, the entire province, and the country.
QPA is an autonomous shared governance organization constituted under the Canada Marine Act. The ships that pass through the Port are central to a supply chain that carries approximately $20 billion in goods each year. The Port of Québec is a maritime hub that generates and supports over 13,000 direct and indirect jobs according to the latest KPMG/SECOR study.
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Québec Port Authority