public services
the environment

Québec has grown tremendously in the past century, evolving from a rural and manufacturing- based society into a society that is modern, highly industrialized, and technologically sophisticated. In the midst of this Quiet Revolution, Québec chose to guarantee its citizens universal access to quality education and professional health care services.

Québec enjoys an enviable standard of living. In addition to benefiting from a remarkable environment and an open, peaceful society, Quebecers have access to a wide range of social measures that ensure their safety and well-being. Funded by the State, these measures are based on the fundamental principle of universal accessibility. Although taxation is a topic of constant debate among Quebecers, they have nonetheless chosen to pay the price of living in a society that offers its citizens the most comprehensive social safety net in all of North America.


The Québec school system has five levels of instruction: kindergarten, elementary, secondary, college and university. At the first four levels, young Quebecers may choose to attend either private schools, which charge tuition fees, or public institutions, which do not.

Most public and private educational institutions are Catholic or Protestant, and French is the language of instruction. There is also an English-language public and private school system.

To facilitate their integration into Québec society, which is mainly French-speaking, the State requires that school-age children of immigrants enrol in French-language schools, unless they choose to attend a private school that is not subsidized by the State, or are legally eligible to attend an English-language school.

Québec has six private universities, three of which provide instruction in French (Université Laval, Université de Montréal, and Université de Sherbrooke), and three of which provide instruction in English (McGill University, Concordia University, and Bishop's University).

The Université du Québec, a public, decentralized university, has eleven components, including six regional universities, two research institutes, two graduate schools, and Télé-Université, which offers courses via distance learning.

To ensure equal access to higher education, the government provides assistance in the form of loans or bursaries to students whose financial situation would otherwise prevent them from pursuing their studies.

Québec colleges and universities are also open to foreign students, who must first obtain a student visa and pay the required tuition fees. Québec has reciprocal agreements with some thirty countries. These agreements enable the nationals of the country in question to study in Québec under the same conditions as Quebecers.

public services

Québec has a highly developed social security and health care system based on the principle of universality. All citizens, regardless of their financial situation, have access to a public hospital and health insurance regime that allows them to benefit from medical and hospital care free of charge.

Furthermore, the public system covers part of the cost of medication prescribed by physicians to citizens aged 65 and over.

Women's access to the labour market has profoundly reshaped family life. It is estimated that women will account for almost 50% of the labour force in the year 2000. Aware of these changes, more and more businesses are adopting measures to help men and women reconcile working life and family responsibilities. A partially subsidized public and private day-care system is available to families, whether or not the parents work outside the home.


Québec's climate and geography have a direct impact on the recreational activities of the population. Four distinctive seasons enable Quebecers to indulge in a wide range of activities. In winter, downhill and cross-country skiing, skating, and ice hockey are popular, while in summer, it is sailing, golf, cycling, swimming, baseball, soccer, and tennis. During the hunting and fishing season, enthusiasts turn to an unspoiled wilderness which is home to a great diversity of wildlife.

In Québec, the great outdoors is never far from urban centres and is easily accessible by road. There are numerous lakes, and the rivers of eastern Québec are among North America's best for Atlantic salmon fishing.

Quebecers are also competitive sports enthusiasts. Professional sports such as ice hockey, Québec's national sport, baseball, North American football, and auto racing attract fans year- round. International tennis matches and the Formula One Grand Prix are well attended.

In addition to sporting events, Québec boasts a wide range of cultural activities from cinema and dance to theatre and concerts of all kinds. Museum attendance has increased steadily over the past few years, now ranking third among Quebecers' cultural outings, after movies and browsing in bookstores.

Large-scale events such as the international jazz and film festivals in Montréal and the international summer festival and winter carnival in Québec City are acclaimed worldwide. Many popular festivities with themes such as migrating snow geese, sugaring-off and the maple products industry, and hot-air balloons attract both Quebecers and tourists as the seasons change.

the environment

Quebecers have a remarkable environment that harbours a broad range of flora and fauna. Concerned with preserving this heritage, they have made environmental protection one of their top priorities.

Québec, like other nations that have undergone rapid industrial growth, has experienced some environmental degradation in recent decades. But Québec has taken the necessary steps to find remedies, especially in the area of water treatment where special attention has been focused and real progress has been made.

Government legislation, cooperation on the part of industry, and increased public awareness of environmental issues have enabled Québec to make significant strides in the area of sustainable development.

The Act to preserve agricultural land protects farmland and prohibits its use for other purposes, especially close to cities. The land protected under this legislation comprises 85% of Québec's most fertile soil--a total of some 2.5 million hectares.

In addition to these preventive measures, Québec has adopted a conservation policy which provides for the creation of ecological reserves, bird sanctuaries, and animal feeding areas.

Finally, Québec works actively with international institutions on projects targeting environmental protection and sustainable development, and is a signatory to a number of national and international agreements.