A new index to measure the economic vitality of Québec municipalities

Québec, December 14, 2016 – The most economically vitalized municipalities are predominantly concentrated in the suburban rings of Québec City, Montréal and Gatineau, as revealed by the new economic vitality index prepared by the Institut de la statistique du Québec and the findings of which have been published today on the Institut’s website. Eight of the ten highest-ranked municipalities in 2014 were located in the suburbs of these large cities. These included Lac-Delage, Sainte-Brigitte-de-Laval and Shannon in the suburban ring to the north of Québec City; Candiac and Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac near Montréal; and Cantley, which is part of the Gatineau metropolitan area.

Conversely, it was mainly the municipalities in the Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine and Bas-Saint-Laurent regions that were ranked lowest.

Characteristics of the least economically vitalized municipalities

The municipalities with the weakest economic vitality index were generally smaller, farther away from major urban centres and had a relatively older population. They were experiencing significant demographic decline, in addition to having generally lower individual total median income and rate of workers than in other municipalities.

Among large cities, Lévis held the top spot

If we solely consider the 2014 rankings of cities with more than 100,000 residents, Lévis is in first place, though Terrebonne and Gatineau are close behind. In these three municipalities, the median total income for those aged 18 or over was particularly high. Conversely, the city of Trois-Rivières was last among Québec municipalities with more than 100,000 residents, mainly on account of its poorer employment performance than cities of similar size.

Economic situation improving in Abitibi-Témiscamingue municipalities

Between 2002 and 2014, most of the municipalities in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region had improved their relative position in the regional economic vitality index ranking. The improving in the region’s economic situation was in part attributable to the thriving mining sector. Conversely, several municipalities in the Chaudière-Appalaches, Estrie and Centre-du-Québec regions dropped in ranking. The decline of the manufacturing sector, an economic base in those regions, could be the cause.

Methodological note

The economic vitality index of regions is the geometric average of the normalized variables of three indicators: median total income for those aged 18 or over, rate of workers for those aged 25–64 and average population growth rate over five years. Each of these indicators represents an essential aspect of vitality: standard of living, labour market and demographic dynamism. It should be noted that the indicators constituting the index were determined, in large part, by the availability of municipal and RCM data. For this reason, gross domestic product, which serves to measure economic activity in a region, is not taken into consideration to establish the economic vitality index.

It should also be noted that the index does not measure the factors at the origin of a region’s economic vitality. These are, in fact, more difficult to quantify, such as the capacity to adapt to change or the leadership of the political and economic elites. The index also does not provide any information on the diversity of a municipality’s economic activity, thus on the extent of its economic vulnerability.


The Institut de la statistique du Québec produces, analyzes and disseminates official, objective and quality statistical information on various aspects of Québec society. It is responsible for carrying out all statistical surveys of general interest. The relevance of its work makes it a strategic ally for decision makers and all those wishing to learn more about Québec.

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