OTTAWA, Ontario, November 14, 2011 ( – A report released last week criticizes Québec’s oft-extolled set of family programs as unsustainable and “problematic” due the province’s snowballing debt and low fertility rates.

“There are real reasons to be concerned about the sustainability of the rather ambitious Québec welfare state. Without substantial fiscal restructuring, the province may not be able to afford to maintain the extensive social benefits it currently offers families,” argues the report, titled “A Québec Family Portrait.” The report was produced by The Institute of Marriage and Family Canada (IMFC), an organization that performs research on marriage and family issues in Canada.

In outlining the “real reasons to be concerned about the sustainability of the rather ambitious Québec welfare state” the report highlights Québec’s debt-to-GDP ratio (the 5th highest in the world at 94%), a low fertility rate (1.74 as of 2008, well below the 2.1 replacement level), and a province-wide “marriage deficit” (63.1% of children in Québec were born outside of marriage in 2010).

“If the Québec experiment in social engineering is ever to unravel, the cause will almost certainly involve fiscal woes flowing from the constant need to refill government coffers, combined with the same low fertility levels experienced by most Canadian jurisdictions,” says the report.

“An astoundingly high abortion rate combined with stubbornly low fertility rates remains a longer term cultural question that Québecers will need to address.”

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The report urges the Government of Québec to revive a “strong marriage culture” so as to avoid the possibility of “instability” in family life should government programs “cease or be curtailed due to tightening budgets.”

Andrea Mrozek, IMFC’s Manager of Research and Communications and a co-author of the report, told LifeSiteNews that what is happening in Québec is a “foreshadowing of things to come for Canada.”

“As a province they [the people of Québec] are not alone in having a fairly robust set of social programs and low fertility which means you are lacking the tax payers to pay for said social programs,” she said, adding that IMFC started with an analysis of Québec because it offered the “most contrast” to the rest of Canada.

Mrozek says she hopes that the report will bring people to an awareness of what is actually happening in their provinces, and provide good information to policy makers. “There is a tremendous capacity of governments—combined federal and provincial—to conceal any problems that do exist,” she said.

“They do need to recover a model of family that we identify as being the strongest way to raise children, which is by their own married parents.”

IMFC’s report acknowledges that such a revival of the family would “mark a 180 degree turn around in Québec’s current approach to family life,” and that it would require a “long term effort, involving non-governmental organizations and religious groups—a broader cultural effort.”

Read the full report: A Québec Family Portrait