Correspondence (letters and petitions) to the Minister dealing mainly with the "Restraint Programme in Education". In April, 1982 the Social Credit Government passed the Education (Interim) Finance Act. The main effects of this Act were to give the Minister of Education control over the size of the budget for each local board and the portion allocated for special education programmes, and to deprive local school boards of their right to levy taxes on non-residential property. The elected school boards were thus deprived of their major revenue source, and stripped of the power to spend their own money on educational services beyond the levels approved by the Minister. On 5 May, 1983 the Social Credit Party under Premier W.R. (Bill) Bennett was elected to a third term of office on the promise of a continuation of the politics of moderate restraint his government had thus far followed. On 7 July the government introduced its budget and 26 Bills. Layoffs of Provincial Government employees began almost immediately and demonstrations were held throughout the Province in support of economic, democratic and human rights. Bill 6, the Education (Interim) Finance Amendment Act became law on 21 October, 1983. Like the April, 1982 Act, the amended act deprived local school boards of their right to levy taxes on nonresidential property and gave the Minister of Education control over the size of the budget for each local board. It also extended the "sunset" provision of the 1982 Act to the end of 1986. Thus control over education became more stringent and the government proceeded to develop a new formula-based "fiscal framework" to govern the budgets of school boards. The government's stated objective was to roll back education services in the Province to the level they were when the Social Credit Party resumed office a decade before. This meant reducing spending at both the local and Provincial levels, in actual as well as deflated dollars, between 1983 and 1986. School boards were forced to cut back a range of services, including various special education programmes and there was a downgrading of art, physical education, shop facilities etc, as well as a reduction in teaching staff and a general increase in class sizes. Teacher's aides vital to special education were lost, provisions for substitute teachers were reduced, budgets for transport and utilities pared, building and ground maintenance reduced and materials and supplies cut. This situation was further exacerbated on 20 February, 1984 when the Government introduced the 1984/1985 budget, which cut funds to all ministries and eliminated grants to students. Plans were announced to fire 2,000 public employees by 31 March, 1984. GR-1788 consists of a selected series of letters to the Minister of Education in the period 1984 - 1985. Most of these letters dealt with the Government's restraint programme in education, although letters dealing with other topics have been included (for example abortion, the fine incurred by the Delta School Board and the dismissal of the Vancouver School Board). Not all letters have been retained. Those discarded include photocopies of letters to Premier Bennett, and to the Minister for Intergovernmental Relations, Mr Garde Gardom and form letters. The letters remaining are mainly from concerned parents worried about reduced standards of education for their children. The majority of letters are against restraint, although some writers are for it. GR-1788 also contains many petitions to the Minister of Education asking for an end to restraint (over 5,000 signatures). This unit can be used in conjunction with GR-1791, Public Business File of the Minister of Education 1983, which contains some earlier "restraint" correspondence.
British Columbia. Ministry of Education (1979-1996)