When Premier Gordon Campbell rolled out his Children's Education Credit program on November 4, some wags wondered just how much preparation had gone into that announcement. Under the program, "$1,000 will be put in trust for every newborn in B.C. for when they are ready for post-secondary education." But when asked about the eventual value of each trust account, the premier told reporters at the biennial convention in Penticton "I couldn't tell you today how much it will grow. It depends on the assumptions you make in the long-term for the future" - although he reportedly gave an estimate of $2,000.
That doesn't seem like the kind of response you'd expect if the government had done a detailed analysis of the program. So Public Eye filed a freedom of information request asking for any documents or correspondence written by senior advanced education bureaucrats between October 23 and November 13 referencing the children's education credit. And today we received a reply: "staff did not locate any responsive records."
That suggests there was no analysis by those civil servants. When we put that observation to the minister responsible Murray Coell, he said "I think the announcement is something that the premier made. He gets to delegate, being the premier, who gets to develop the program - which he asked me to do and I'm delighted to do" - with that work being done "during the spring session" and applied retroactively. The following is an edited copy of the aforementioned freedom of information request response.
November 24, 2006
Dear Sean Holman:
I am replying to your November 13, 2006 access request to the Ministry of Advanced Education (AVED) under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (the Act). You request access to "...any and all correspondence (emails, etc.) or documents from/to/forwarded to/copied to Moura Quayle or her assistant deputies referencing this program/initiative (the Children's Education Credit of $1000 announced by Premier Gordon Campbell on November 4) between October 23 and November 13".
AVED staff conducted searches for responsive records in the Deputy Minister's office, the Assistant Deputy Ministers' offices as well as in programs of the Post Secondary Education Division, the Students and Learning Division and the Research, Technology and Innovation Division. Staff did not locate any responsive records.
If ou have any questions about this response to your access request, please write or call me. If you required further assistance, you may also contact the Acting Director, Allan Carlson.
Under section 52 (Right to ask for a review) of the Act, you may ask the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC) to review the Ministry's response to your request. You have 30 days upon receipt of this notice to request a review by writing to:
Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner
PO Box n9038 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria BC V8W 9A4
Telephone: 250-387-5629 Facsimile: 250-387-1696
If you wishto request a review by the OIPC, please provide their office with:
* a copy of your original request;
* a copy of this decision letter; and
* a written request, specifying the reasons for a review.
Mark Grady for
Privacy and Records Management Branch
If you wish to request a review by