A Quebec woman has been ordered to pay a $100,000 fine after she pleaded guilty to using fake credentials to get hired as a nurse by the Jonquière hospital and work there for 20 years.
Nathalie Bélanger, 51, pleaded guilty to six out of nine criminal charges of fraud and forgery.
Along with the hefty fine, she was also sentenced to community service and two years minus a day in jail. However, she will not serve her time behind bars.
In Canada, a judge can decide that a person's sentence, if it is less than two years, may be served in the community with certain conditions instead of jail.
This happens when the court is confident that the offender will not endanger the safety of the public.
Bélanger pleaded guilty to six criminal charges of fraud and forgery.
Quebec Court Judge Pierre Lortie agreed with the prosecution and defence that Bélanger had expressed remorse for her actions which began with her falsified curriculum vitae.
The woman worked as a nurse at the Jonquière hospital despite allegedly having no training in nursing.
She was charged for providing the employer with false documents, including a diploma, a nursing license and proof that she had paid her membership fees to the Quebec Order of Nurses.
She's alleged to have used the licence number of another accredited nurse who has the same name and also works in the region, the documents say.
The regional health authority, the Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux (CIUSSS) du Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean, discovered the alleged fraud when Bélanger registered for a training program, and someone realized her date of birth didn't match their records.
An investigation was launched in the spring of 2019, and Bélanger was fired.
Both Bélanger's lawyer, Luc Tourangeau, and prosecutor, Michaël Bourget, agreed the woman did not represent a threat to public health.
"There is no evidence that she put people's safety at risk, which could have resulted in a custodial sentence," said Bourget."There is nothing to show that she could not do her job."
Bourget said the woman was even responsible for training others.
There were some cases where, in the operating room, doctors noticed she struggled with certain medical devices, but that wasn't enough to give her away, said Tourangeau.
"On the other hand, for the patients, there was no problem," he said.