Series GR-0289 - Indigent Fund administration files

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Indigent Fund administration files

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GR-0289

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  • 1914-1933 (Creation)
    Creator
    British Columbia. Dept. of the Provincial Secretary

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Originals, 96 cm

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(1872-1976)

Biographical history

The Dept. of the Provincial Secretary was established in 1872. Prior to that, the origins of this department was in the offices of the Colonial Secretaries for the Colony of Vancouver Island (1863-1866), the Colony of British Columbia (1864-1866) and the united colony of British Columbia (1866-1871). When British Columbia joined confederation in 1871, the name Colonial Secretary remained in place until April 1872 when a Provincial Secretary was named to assume the duties and functions (SBC 1872, c. 15). The mandate of the Provincial Secretary included all the powers, duties and functions held by provincial secretaries and registrars in other provinces of the Dominion of Canada. They included being the keeper of the Great Seal of the Province, with the authority to issues letters patent and commissions, and being the keeper of all registers and archives of the province and previous governments of the province. As with other departments, it was also the duty of the Provincial Secretary to make an annual report to the Lieutenant-Governor. The first annual report was produced in 1972. At various times, different agencies have been under the direction of the Provincial Secretary such as treasury and audit branches, Bureau of Mines, gold commissioners, Returned Soldiers’ Commission, Provincial Library and Archives, Provincial Board of Health, Vital Statistics, Provincial Home, and others. In most instances these agencies were later transferred to the control of new ministries established to administer the specific function or functions. At various times and for varying periods, the Provincial Secretary was responsible for industrial schools, mothers’ pensions, administration of the Infants’ Act, protection of historic sites, and arbitration of labour disputes. In 1947, the Dept. of the Provincial Secretary administered the Civil Service Commission, Government Printing Bureau, Superannuation Commission, mental hospitals, institution farms, homes for the aged, inspector of hospitals, and the Elections Act. In 1976, with the addition of travel and tourism functions from the Dept. of Recreation and Travel Industry, the Dept. of the Provincial Secretary was renamed the Ministry of the Provincial Secretary and Travel Industry (OIC 3199/76).

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Scope and content

Correspondence inward and outward of the Deputy Provincial Secretary pertaining to the administration of funds for the "aid of the destitute, poor, and sick." Between 1872 and 1942, an annual vote of funds for the "aid of the destitute, poor, and sick" was included in the estimates of the B.C. legislature. The fund, which was administered by the Office of the Provincial Secretary, originally contained $500. By 1935, this figure had risen to $110,000; but in the fund's final year of existence, 1943, the vote of funds had declined to $40,000. The Indigent Fund unlike the Mother's Pension, the Old Age Pension (1927), or the Veterans Assistance plans was not tied to an "Act of Parliament", and thus relief was provided to people under a wide range of circumstances, and included many who failed to qualify for assistance under specific federal or provincial schemes. The fund was designed to meet the immediate and shortterm needs of rural B.C. residents (municipalities had their own funds) who through misfortune or bad planning had found themselves without "the necessities of life." The key to the fund until the early 1930s, when the position of Superintendent of Welfare was created, was the Deputy Provincial Secretary, for it was often at his discretion that assistance was provided. He was aided in his duties by the various Government Agents, who were responsible for handling vouchers, disbursing cheques, and reporting to Victoria any new developments in individual cases. They, in turn, were assisted by Provincial Police constables who usually investigated each case and submitted a report. GR-0289 consists of: correspondence inward and outward from the Deputy Provincial Secretary's office; correspondence from Government Agents to the Deputy Provincial Secretary; Provincial Police reports on the condition of Indigents; correspondence from indigents or persons representing them to the Premier, Ministers, and the Deputy Provincial Secretary; and miscellaneous correspondence to and from various government departments and agencies such as Workman's Compensation Board, Department of Immigration, public hospitals, police departments etc. Although the outside dates of the collection extend from 1914 to 1933, the bulk of the files cover the period from the mid 1920s. The files are arranged alphabetically by the last name of the indigent. They are not, however, arranged alphabetically within each folder. There are two alphabetical series, as well as two sets of files titled "miscellaneous". All files have been preserved in their original order. Box Files 1 Miscellaneous, A-H 2 I-P 3 R-Z 4 Miscellaneous, A-C (p.1-106) 5 C (p.107-490)-G 6 H-L 7 Mc, M-R 8 S-W

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These records are restricted. Please contact the BC Archives for information about access.

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Accession number(s): GR-0289

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