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Mr. and Mrs. Columbia, recent immigrants to Canada, had been utilizing the social assistance (Ontario Works) program to support themselves. After a few years of collecting, Mrs. Columbia began working at a retirement home performing personal support work and at a hotel performing housekeeping. Mrs. Columbia was being paid for this work but continued to collect her social assistance benefits.

An investigation at Ontario Works led to the discovery that Mrs. Columbia was no longer eligible for social assistance funding. She had received over $8,000 in benefits to which she was deemed disentitled. The Ottawa Police Service were contacted and both Mr. and Mrs. Columbia were charged with fraud over $5,000. Mr. Columbia provided several thousand dollars back to Ontario Works immediately after being charged.

Result – given that Mr. and Mrs. Columbia were first time offenders and had made partial restitution of the monies taken, the Crown was persuaded to divert these charges. This is an extraordinary result. This is an atypical result. Charges were ultimately withdrawn upon Mr. and Mrs. Columbia completing the requirements of the diversion program.