QUEBEC (AP) _ Quebec will compensate some 3,000 people, most born out of wedlock, who were confined and often mistreated at orphanages and mental institutions in the 1940s and '50s.

Premier Lucien Bouchard announced the creation of a $2 million fund Thursday to compensate the so-called ``Duplessis orphans.''

As children, most of them poor and born to single mothers, they were placed in church-run orphanages and psychiatric institutions during the period when Maurice Duplessis was premier of Quebec.

Quebec, Canada's only Francophile province, is heavily Roman Catholic, and out-of-wedlock births at the time were a source of deep shame.

Many of the 3,000 survivors claim they were beaten, molested or raped at the institutions. Some allege they were given electroshocks and confined to straitjackets even though there was nothing wrong with them.

Speaking in the Quebec legislature on Thursday, Bouchard apologized for the way the children were treated but he made no mention of a public inquiry, which many survivors have demanded.

The opposition Quebec Liberal Party criticized Bouchard's offer as insufficient, saying it would provide only $670 to each of the victims.