The series consists of records created by the Deputy Provincial Secretary between 1914 and 1933 pertaining to the administration of funds for the "aid of the destitute, poor, and sick."
Between 1872 and 1942, an annual vote of funds 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.
The records consist 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.
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.
British Columbia. Dept. of the Provincial Secretary