Are nurses in Canada above the law?
The Vancouver Sun reported that a Registered Nurse was found, by the College of Registered Nurses of British Columbia, to have engaged in “long-term (financial) exploitation of a nurse-client relationship with an elderly and infirm couple”. The nurse was fined $17,500 and ordered to pay the College’s legal costs. Read B.C. Nurse hit with precedent-setting fine for financially exploiting elderly couple
Evidence confirmed that the Nanaimo, BC nurse “issued cheques upon or received payments from [the couple’s] bank account, totaling over $11,000… in addition to the $800 per month stipend… received for her nursing services.” The elderly couple also paid for the nurse’s dental work, glasses and medication which, alone, cost $1,600 per month.
The Registered Nurse also (unlawfully) obtained Power of Attorney for the elderly couple, and accepted a joint ownership of a $30,000 mobile home purchased by the couple. Several months after the elderly couple died in January 2014, ownership was transferred to the RN’s name. According to the CRNBC, the Registered Nurse who committed these offenses is currently the sole owner of the mobile home.” Read the BC College of Registered Nurses full Decision here.
Are nurses now above the law in Canada? If so, why? Who made that decision? And if this is true, why hasn’t the public been informed?
Anyone else who was suspected of, or found to have committed, financial exploitation would have been charged with a criminal offense. Here’s one example. On March 1, 2018, the CBC reported “a Vancouver Island man accused of defrauding women for money has been arrested. He’d allegedly tell targets – usually in their 20s and 30s – that he’d misplaced his bank card and convince them to write cheques for up to $1,600 to help a fake business. RCMP issued a Canada-wide warrant for Shepherd’s arrest on Wednesday.”
This story received wide coverage in the media, even though the alleged thefts were relatively minor dollar amounts, and the victims were not vulnerable persons, as compared to the fraud of well over $50,000 that was committed by the Registered Nurse against an elderly couple. Why wasn’t the Registered Nurse charged by police or by the BC Attorney General after the evidence was made known to health care authorities? Do health care providers and authorities not have an obligation to report crimes? If not, why not?
Why is the College of Registered Nurses enriched as a result of this crime?
The College of Registered Nurses levied fines against this nurse to be paid… to the College, and also ordered that the nurse reimburse the College for their legal costs. The elderly couple (their estate) received nothing. Why weren’t the elderly victims or their estate reimbursed for the theft of their assets, committed by one of the College’s members? The financial elder abuse committed by this nurse was compounded by the College being enriched by the crime, while no compensation of any amount was made to the victims or their heirs.
Medical colleges of all stripes are so-called “self-regulated bodies”. “Self-regulation” is a fiction, based on the premise that these professions do not need to be overseen by public watchdogs because their members are morally and ethically superior to ordinary citizens. That’s nonsense. We’re also told that self-regulated medical and health care provider Colleges exist to protect the public.
However in many cases, we have found that Colleges give lip service to complaints from members of the public and, instead, protect their members from sanction, offering only the occasional slap on the wrist for negligence and misconduct. And now, it seems that medical and health care professionals are being exempted from criminal prosecution too. In Canada, no person is above the law. At least that’s what we’re told. Why is this crime being exempted from prosecution by authorities?
Finally, why did the reporter not raise these fairly obvious points? Insightful members of the public did – read the Vancouver Sun article’s comments section.
If any of these issues or questions concerns you, write or email (don’t phone) David Eby, BC Attorney General. Ask why this Registered Nurse has not been charged with a criminal act. If we, as ordinary members of the public, do nothing, we will be party to the crime, and any one of us could be the next victim.
Honourable David Eby
PO Box 9044 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria, BC V8W 9E2