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Return to First Part of Chapter

3. Eligibility Review Officer (ERO) Investigations

(a) Overview

Some initial flavour of the role of Eligibility Review Officers (EROs) in the welfare process is given in the preceding discussion in s.2 above regarding "Fraud", and the discussion of them at Ch.5, s.4 "Information Eligibility: Eligibility Review Officers".

I have left the primary discussion of EROs to this "Fraud and Prosecution" chapter because, in my view, and despite the facade perpetuated in the legislation - and now sadly by the courts (see the discussion of R v D'Amour, above) - their primary role is not to 'review eligibility' as such, but rather to act as the investigative arm of the welfare fraud department and the Crown Attorney's office.

EROs are authorized by law to conduct investigations into "past and present eligibility" under the welfare and ODSP Acts and their predecessor legislation [Act s.58(2)]. Besides a general authority to that end to "inquire into all financial transactions, records and other matters that are relevant to the investigation" - they also have special legal powers to enter non-dwelling premises and issue demands for materials therein [Reg s.65(1)], and authority to apply for and act under search warrants [Act s.58(2)].

(b) Entry and Demand

. Clarification

The main provision establishing ERO 'entry and demand' powers [Reg s.65(1)] is ambiguous about whether these entry and demand powers are separate free-standing powers (on the one hand) or whether the demand powers can only be exercised during an "entry". Thankfully, this surprising ambiguity is clarified (but only incidentally) by Reg s.65(3) which reads:
s.65(3)
An officer shall exercise the powers mentioned in subsection (1) only during business hours for the place that the officer has entered.
This sub-section makes it plain that the demand powers are meant to be exercised only during an "entry". Further, all provisions from Reg s.65(1) through (8) relate to this entry/demand authority.

. Entry

EROs may, in business hours, enter any non-dwelling place (ie. non-residences) that they believe on reasonable grounds contain evidence relevant to determining a person's eligibility in relation to OWA, ODSP or other provincial social welfare programs [Reg s.65(1)(3)].

However - where a place is being used as a dwelling (ie. residence) no entry may take place except with the consent of the occupier or with a search warrant, and even then only during business hours [Reg s.65(2)].

. Demands

During an entry, investigators may inquire into, and demand production for inspection of "all financial transactions, records and other matters relevant to the investigation" [Reg s.65(1)(c)]. Such demands must be written and itemized by nature of material required [Reg s.65(4)]. The person having custody of the documents is required by law to provide them to the ERO [Reg s.65(4)].

The ERO may - on providing a written receipt for the thing - remove things produced as result of the entry and demand for review or copying or to take them to a Justice of the Peace (JP) or Judge who will make an order for the "detention of things seized" [POA s.159; CCC s.490] [Reg s.65(6)]. Where the things are not so taken to a JP or judge they shall be returned to the person who produced them [Reg s.65(7)]. Certified copies of things (ie. documents) so obtained are admissible in evidence in that same manner as originals [Reg s.65(8)].

Anyone subject of a "demand" must, on request for the ERO, "provide whatever help is reasonably necessary including using any data storage, processing or retrieval device or system to produce a record in readable form" (ie. to help print out a record contained in a computer) [Reg s.65(12)]

(c) Warrant Searches

EROs have authority to apply for and act under search warrants for the purposes of their investigation [Act s.58(2); Reg s.65(13)].

It is beyond the scope of this program to further explore the law of search warrants.

(d) "General" Investigative and Demand Authority

The following "authorities" appear to be general investigative powers not tied to the exercise of the 'entry and demand' authorities discussed immediately above.

EROs have additional authority during an "investigation" to "call upon an expert for whatever assistance he or she considers necessary ..." [Reg s.65(9)], and to "use a data storage, processing or retrieval device or system in order to produce a record in readable form".

On the face of the Regulation (but see this issue immediately below) - EROs have the additional (and huge) "demand" authority as follows:
s.65(11)
An officer may require information or material from a person who is the subject of an investigation under this section or from any person who the officer has reason to believe can provide information or material relevant to the investigation.
Further - as with demands made during an "entry" - anyone subject of a "demand" must, on request of the ERO, assist in using such storage devices or systems as necessary to "produce a record in readable form" (ie. to help print out a record contained in a computer) [Reg s.65(12)].

(e) Conflict Between "Entry and Demand" and "General Investigative and Demand Authority"?

There is a statutory interpretation problem between the "demand" authorities that are coincident with an "entry" [s.3(b) above] (call these "entry demands") and the search warrant powers - on the one hand, and the seemingly free-standing, independent "demand" authority contained in s.65(11) quoted above (call these "general demands") - on the other hand.

The "entry demand" authority requires writing, can only be done during an "entry", and covers "financial transactions, records and other matters". The details of search warrant powers are unspecified but will be governed at the discretion of the judge or JP based on the conventional law of search warrants, which is too extensive to discuss here.

The "general demand" authority - seemingly - has no requirement of writing, may be done anytime to anyone anywhere (including in dwelling places) - and covers both "information or material" from both the subject of the investigation and from anyone else.

The problem is that the "general demand" authorities are much less restrictive than the "entry demand" and search warrant powers (requiring judicial authorization as they do). Further, the use of the "general demand" authority seems to circumvent the standard search and seizure protections otherwise required (eg. warrants for dwelling place searches). By standard principles of statutory interpretation the more specific restrictive (and protective) provisions would tend to apply over the more general - but if this is the case what meaning is to be ascribed to the broad s.65(11) powers, for it is also a principle of statutory interpretation that all statutory provisions must have unique meaning?

This is a problem created by ambiguous drafting and may have to eventually be resolved by a court. However until that is done I suggest that s.65(11) can be given a meaning consistent with the narrower "entry demand" and search warrant powers if it's primary meaning is to specify 'the parties' who may be subject of "entry demands" and search warrants (ie. both the subject of the investigation and anyone else "who the officer has reason to believe can provide information or material relevant to the investigation").

To read these provisions collectively in any other fashion effectively creates an unlimited (ie. applicable to dwelling places as well) verbal - search and seizure authority where applicant/recipients are dragooned into being witnesses against themselves. The effect of this interpretation is quite contrary to standard investigative and search and seizure doctrine, and renders most of the highly-articulated "entry demand" provisions redundant.

(f) Misuse of Consent to Disclose and Verify Information

Although not only available for use by EROs, the Consent to Disclose and Verify Information (see Ch.5: "Information Eligibility: The Legal Problem: Consents to Disclose and Verify Information") is a primary tool in any form of welfare investigation.

As noted in Ch.5, use of these Consents is fraught with a great deal of abuse (in which administrators are only too complicit). On their face these forms only purport to justify the providing of "information" by third parties to the administrator. As a practical matter however what are provided almost invariably by the third parties are copies of original documents or business records which - under the rubric of satisfying the "information" request, end up providing the administrator with documentary evidence without the need to resort to the stronger entry/demand and warrant powers described above. It is this documentary evidence which then finds itself entered into court against the recipient as a "business record" (a form of evidentiary hearsay exception) should fraud charges follow. Essentially the "form" in which the third party elects to provide the information - in most cases out of their convenience - effectively abrogates the protection of the judicial oversight provided by warrant provisions that would otherwise have to be used.

This practice manifests the disregard shown for the privacy rights of recipients by both the administrator and the third party information holders (who should re-examine such practices in light of the fiduciary confidentiality duties they owe to their clients). This is but one further aspect of the tenuous situation that social assistance recipients find themselves in with respect to the criminal procedural protections advanced to other citizens (for instance, suspected embezzlers and rapists) by the Charter (see s.5 below).

(g) Government Information-Sharing Authorities

The ability of welfare authorities to obtain, use and disclose information and evidence about the lives of recipients does not - by any means - end with the techniques discussed above and in Ch.5 "Information Eligibility".

First, there are also a range of "information" and "personal information" disclosure provisions in the OW Act. Under s.40 of the OW Act information about present and former social assistance applicants requested by the Director (of Ontario Works) shall be provided by the administrator. Under s.41 of the OW Act "personal information" (as defined in the MFIPPA legislation, see Ch.5) collected by administrator may be used by the administrator and the Minister for the purposes of the Act "or for a consistent purpose".

Further, the province requires local welfare administrators to maintain their records in a standardized electronic form [Act s.42]. Both municipal and provincial welfare authorities simply go on-line to the province-wide social assistance computer system to check a recipient's information.

Even broader authority is provided for the making of "inter-governmental" agreements allowing the collection, use and sharing of "information" between the Minister of Community and Social Services and local administrators [s.71,72.73 Act] with and from:
  • the federal government and its ministries, departments and agencies,

  • the provincial governments and their ministries, departments and agencies,

  • the federal and state governments of the United States and their departments and agencies,

  • any Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) or Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA) "institution" (ie. the wide range of government bodies subject to those Acts).
Two such agreements are linked here:

Ontario-Canada Memorandum on Information-Sharing, 2004

Statement of Mutual Understanding on Information-Sharing [Canada-US]

In short, one is hard-pressed to locate any remaining areas in which a recipient enjoys privacy protection against these many and powerful government agencies.

(h) Legal Privilege

Generally, any materials containing solicitor-client privileged information (roughly: any communications by anyone, the primary purpose of which is the obtaining or giving of legal advice) are subject of special protections during any demand or search warrant procedures.

Section 160 of the Provincial Offences Act [and s.488.1 Criminal Code] governs the procedure to be followed when claims of such privilege have to be made during warrant searches - and these should be reviewed in detail if any such problem arises. It is likely that a court would endorse similar procedures - or grant similar rights - to solicitors subject of ERO "demands" as discussed above. The single time in my practice that I have been served with such a demand I wrote back claiming privilege over my entire file and never heard anything back after that. In any event, solicitor-client privilege will withstand any form of OW 'demand' authority.

(i) Provincial "Obstruction" Offence

Uncertainties created by the already ambiguous investigative authority of Eligibility Review Officers (discussed above) are compounded by the existence of a provincial "obstruction" offence, putting the applicant/recipient at further risk if they try to assert anything like a self-incrimination defence once they are under investigation:
s.79(3)
No person shall obstruct or knowingly give false information to a person engaged in investigations for the purposes of section 57 or 58.
Procedures for these charges are governed by the Provincial Offences Act. The maximum penalty on conviction of this provincial offence is $5,000 fine and/or jail of up to six months [Act s.79(4)].

Thankfully (and as noted earlier) conviction for any social assistance offence (either criminal or provincial) no longer carries with it the additional penalty of a lifetime welfare and ODSP ban (those provisions were revoked 01 January 2004).


4. Fraud Control Units

As noted above in the discussion of the D'Amour case [s.2(d) "Fraud Investigation Process"], the next step up in the fraud chain is typically the "Fraud Control Unit" [Act s.57(1)]. Larger centers like Toronto will have dedicated Fraud Control Unit while smaller offices may centralize them with a multi-district office.

Fraud Control Units have the legal right to "investigate eligibility of present and past applicants and recipients, including possible violations of" the welfare, ODSP and predecessor legislative regimes [Act s.57(3)].

"Fraud Control Units" - as agents of the administrator and Director - have the effective and broad "authority" to collect, use and disclose information regarding a recipient/applicant under the terms of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) and the sister "Municipal" FIPPA [MFIPPA s.28(2),31,32] - and to receive and share information and personal information as outlined in s.3(g) above. These are not further 'demand-type' powers, only authority for welfare administration to collect and use personal information that they obtain in any other legal fashion.

The files of "fraud control units" are effectively exempt from access by citizens both under the provincial freedom of information law (FIPPA) and the municipal equivalent (MFIPPA), by virtue of being classified as 'law enforcement' activities - a broad categorical exemption to that legislation [Act s.57(4)].

There is an irony in the existence of the "Fraud Control Unit" as a distinct investigative stage between the ERO level and the Crown or "Special Review Committee" level. EROs have far greater investigative powers than the Fraud Control Unit (entry, demands, warrant request authority, etc: see "Eligibility Review Officers", above). For that matter, in their field EROs have far greater non-warrant investigative powers even than police officers.

It is plain that the bulk of fraud investigation is at the hands of EROs, not of any fraud control units.


5. Charter

(a) Overview

The topic of the interaction between social assistance applicant/recipients and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a broad one. This section only discusses the Charter as it bears on the situation of the prosecuted applicant/recipient - and even then only briefly. Readers are cautioned that I am not an experienced criminal lawyer and any situations of actual prosecution should immediately seek counsel from such a practitioner.

That said, I have been unable to this point to hold back my scorn [see s.2(d) "Fraud Investigation Process", above] for the treatment of prosecuted welfare applicant/recipients at the hands of the Charter. The main issue in all such situations is of course the use of information and documentation - given for the purpose (or under the pretext) of establishing eligibility - as evidence in prosecutions.

The primary Charter provision at play on this issue is s.24(2), the evidence exclusion remedial provision. There are several routes (ie. several different types of violation of Charter rights) that may be hoped to take a defendant to s.24(2) of the Charter. These include:
  • s.7 Right to Liberty
  • s.8 Unreasonable Search and Seizure
Related-"sounding" provisions against being compelled to be a witness in one's own trial [Charter s.11(c)] and self-incrimination [Charter s.13] are only triggered once legal proceedings are already afoot, and as such are not within the scope of this discussion.

(b) Evidence Exclusion [s.24(2)]
s.24(2)
Where, in proceedings under subsection (1), a court concludes that evidence was obtained in a manner that infringed or denied any rights or freedoms guaranteed by this Charter, the evidence shall be excluded if it is established that, having regard to all the circumstances, the admission of it in the proceedings would bring the administration of justice into disrepute.
To get to the possibility of activating s.24(2) one must get past several hurdles. First the situation must be located within a "right or freedom" located in the Charter [see the discussions on s.7 and s.8 Charter below]. Next it must get past s.1 of the Charter, where the Crown has the burden to prove that the right is infringed in a manner that is a "reasonable limit prescribed by law". This is known as the "proportionality test" and (roughly) consists of consideration of whether the challenged law is "overbroad" or - alternatively - is it narrowly tailored for its purpose, and thus more acceptable.

The last threshold test for the activation of s.24(2) of course is whether the admission of the evidence would "bring the administration of justice into disrepute". This is a wonderfully nebulous criteria that puts one in mind of public surveys and interviews with 'people on the street'. In reality it is an unconscionability standard and is applied so by the courts with varying degrees of consistency.

An important aspect of the s.24(2) "disrepute" issue that needs to be recognized is that it tends to focus on 'self-created' evidence, the classic form of which is a confession. Pre-existing documents - on the other hand - tend to fall for consideration under the s.8 search and seizure protections [although where pre-existing evidence is located with the help of accused then it may be excluded: R v Mellenthin (SCC, 1992)]. In fact, the whole area of Charter exclusion evidence tends to afford less protection to physical-form evidence such as objects, as opposed to verbal statements, where defendants are said to "be conscripted against themselves".

(c) Right to Liberty [s.7]
Charter s.7
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.
The courts have read s.7 to include a right of silence - which really means concern over whether confessions are truly "voluntary" (ie. or are they compelled by threat or induced by promise of benefit): R v Hebert (SCC, 1990). This concern pre-dates the Charter with English common law persistently inquiring whether any confessions are generated by promises or threats.

The 1981 SCC case of R v Rothman extended this concern into one focussing on both the traditional "voluntariness" and the "new" concern over whether the admission into evidence of the confession would "bring the administration of justice into disrepute" [this doctrine is now embodied in s.24(2), above].

The s.7 "right to silence" tensions are activated in the typical welfare situation when information and evidence (typically documents) - gathered ostensibly for "eligibility" purposes - are seamlessly transferred up the chain for use in fraud and prosecution purposes. Note that "compulsion" of confessions in the welfare context can occur in several forms: the application process with its sworn forms and mandatory Consents to Disclose and Verify Information, general day-to-day worker inquiries made under constant threat of disentitlement, ERO entry demands and searches, and Fraud Control Unit investigations.

Within these, the "practical" compulsions and/or enticements at work here are:
  • without welfare assistance the applicant/recipient and their family is, by definition, financially destitute, an obvius and very effective form of effective compulsion pushing them to disclose.

    However, conventional Canadian constitutional doctrine would say that this may be 'compulsion', but it is not "state"-compulsion. Thus conveniently ignoring that it is the state and the laws of the land that protect private property and perpetuate an economic system that allows some to hold property in vast excess of what they need while others are arrested for "squatting" in their unused vacant, derelict buildings.

  • (if welfare participation isn't "compelled") surely (under the above conventional logic) it must be an "inducement"?

    Would a confession be acceptable if it was obtained on a police promise to pay the defendant $585 a month? When a welfare defendant fears loss of their on-going eligibility unless they 'co-operate' with investigators (ie. confess) - how can the "inducement" be any less? How can such a confession be "reliable" under conventional legal doctrine of "voluntariness"?
It is worth noting that a pre-Charter case [Walker v R (SCC, 1939) held that statutory compulsion into confession or admission does not render the statement inadmissible for lack of voluntariness. This principle has apparently survived the Charter: Fitzpatrick v The Queen 102 CCC (3d) 144 (SCC).

(d) Unreasonable Search and Seizure (Privacy) [s.8]
Charter s.8
Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.
Section 8 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms stands to protect us against from unreasonable search and seizure by the government. A key first principle relied upon the courts in informing the meaning of s.8 is that of "reasonable expectation of privacy". Only circumstances in which this expectation exists will be subject to s.8 protection.

Of course the "reasonable expectation of privacy" criteria for assessing search and seizure limits is fundamentally conceptually flawed as it provides back-door incentives for governments to - by reducing the reasonableness of the "expectation" of privacy - reduce the range of the protection. For instance, a simple verbal warning or note on the side of a form (or as in the case of Ontario, broad MFIPPA government "personal information" disclosure "rights" - which include for purposes of "law enforcement" [s.28(2),32]) - effectively degrades privacy protection under the "expectation of privacy" criteria (ie. administrators are entitled by statute to disclose any and all personal information held about a person to anyone else for 'law enforcement purposes').

To state the argument in an extreme form for sake of poignancy: what "reasonable expectation of privacy" can one have in a police state? - none whatsoever of course. The degree to which privacy rights in fact are respected (which forms one's "reasonable expectation") becomes the degree to which the law will protect it. This is a charade of circularity.

(e) A Case in Point: R v D'Amour

. The Facts

The 2002 Court of Appeal case of D'Amour (discussed above) from the Ontario Court of Appeal considered the s.24(2) evidence exclusion under both s.7 and s.8 of the Charter (see above). The issue in D'Amour was whether a document (an income tax "T4") provided by a recipient to welfare authorities in the course of an eligibility review could be admitted into evidence against her in the course of a criminal fraud prosecution. The subject document was obtained by the recipient and given to the administrator.

. Search and Seizure [s.8]

Regarding s.8, the court in D'Amour considered and agreed that 'privacy' expectations varied in strength dependent on the use to which the document was put, here the distinction being between the administration of welfare on the one hand, and criminal prosecution on the other. With breath-taking logic however the Court then concluded that in this case those two purposes coincided, effectively voiding the right of privacy for welfare recipients:
... the use of the T4 slips in the criminal prosecution for the fraudulent receipt of benefits did not amount to the use of the document for a purpose different from the enforcement of the Act.
It is worth noting at this point that this 'regulatory v criminal' distinction has been applied in other contexts to bypass conventional criminal self-incrimination protections. In Gore v College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (Ont Div Ct, 1998), the court applied the distinction to deny the applicant the right to resist an investigative summons where the goal was regulatory, despite the obvious potential for use of the investigation results in later criminal proceedings.

However, the logic used here in D'Amour essentially destroys the distinction between administrative regulatory purposes and criminal prosecution purposes, and thereby disregards any consideration of the role of state-compelled privacy intrusion in the Charter analysis. It renders any and all documentation given to an administrator by a recipient for eligibility purposes (and what other purpose could there be for providing it) fully admissible against them in criminal welfare prosecutions. For all intents and purposes, the s.8 privacy rights of a welfare recipient do not exist with respect to welfare information and documentary disclosure. Given that disclosure requirements are so broad (and "over-broad", see Ch.5 on this issue), one is hard-pressed to locate what remaining area of privacy remains to recipients.

The court however expressed hesitation that the information or documents should be available for prosecutions in non-welfare related matters. Again, the privacy rights of suspected burglars and murders (as such) are accorded higher constitutional protections than those of us on social assistance.

Of similar analysis and effect to D'Amour was R v Hannah [1996] OJ #3489 (OCJGD) where an FBA worker requested that the recipient provide copies of her bank records. These were eventually submitted up the chain to an ERO and eventually to the Crown for use in evidence against her in a criminal fraud trial - never having been obtained by warrant. The defence argued that her s.8 right against unreasonable search and seizure (ie. privacy right) was infringed. The court allowed the records to be used in evidence, holding - without any apparent qualms - that the recipient had reduced expectation of privacy as a social assistance recipient.

. Right to Liberty [s.7]

The court in D'Amour drew a defensible distinction between 'conscripted' (created by the defendant) evidence, and the evidence before it - the T4 slips (independently-created by third parties). The slips were created - prior to the investigation - by another government authority and simply sent to the defendant, who in turn provided them to the welfare authorities.

The court expressed a distinction between the facts in D'Amour, where documents were not created as a result of state compulsion related to the prosecution - but merely handed over as a result of it, and the case in R v Ling (then the BCCA ruling, later in 2002 in the SCC) where the documents were created as a result of state compulsion related to the prosecution.

The court in D'Amour walked through the four steps of the (then) leading self-incrimination test R v White as follows:

i. Degree of state coercion

The discussion here is revealing of the conventional social attitude to social assistance recipients. The court held that termination of assistance on failure to provide the demanded documents did not amount to state compulsion of the production of the documents. To advocates for the poor this statement is astounding: the looming threat of termination of benefits not having a coercive effect!

The social attitude reflected in this ruling is clearly that the person isn't 'forced' to apply for social assistance, and to that extent they have 'volunteered' their involvement with the social assistance system. This attitude finds it's origin in the formalistic distinction between state action and state inaction, common to Charter analysis. The Rights provisions of the Charter are rights protecting 'against' state action. However rights 'to' positive state action such as social programs are not considered guaranteed by the Charter.

Further, implicit in this framework is that the state has no role in the perpetuation of inequalities of wealth via its role as protector of the sanctity of private property - this rather is some bedrock aspect of nature divorced from state intervention. The unacknowledged reality is that the courts, the legislature and society at large all implictly demand and protect the right to positive state action in the form of police protection and property law enforcement (regardless of the obscenity of the wealth of the claimant). In this world-view, these property rights and protections are not "state action" and thus are not subject to examination under the Charter - while the (here) disabled ODSP recipient under threat (or actuality) of income support cancellation has no Charter rights as they have 'voluntarily' come to state assistance.

ii. Nature of the Relationship When the Documents Were Produced

Here the court held that there was no criminal investigation underway at the time of the request for the T4 slip, and as such this leg of the test was not met to invoke the Charter protection.

Again here advocates despair, knowing that the normal work of all ODSP workers, particularly Eligibility Review Officers (EROs) (as were involved in D'Amour at the key time) to determine eligibility is coincident in all material respects with the substance of fraud investigation: ask questions, seek verification and proof. The burden lies constantly on the recipient to prove their assertions.

Further, the practical role of an ERO officer is almost always retrospective (ie. past investigation) rather than prospective (ie. on-going eligibility determination). On-going eligibility determination is normally dealt with by regular caseworkers who deny eligibility until satisfied with the information and evidence provided.

iii. Risk Inherent in Unreliable Confessions

The court concluded in this point, rightly in my opinion, that there was no such risk of unreliability in the T4 evidence, produced as it was prior to the investigation and by third parties with information received from other third
parties (the employer).

iv. Does the Use of the Evidence Increase the Likelihood of Abusive State Conduct

In large part the court referred this issue - thus in effect converting it - to the "reasonable expectation of privacy" issue considered under s.8, discussed above. Having concluded that no reasonable expectation of privacy existed there, even from it's use in criminal prosecutions, the result is a foregone conclusion.

The court however did say - with respect to the risk of abuse - that it did not consider the request for the T4 as unreasonable in either the original circumstances(eligibility review), or in the criminal prosecution, such prosecution being only an aspect of the administration of the ODSP regime.

While this statement is consistent with the court's position thoroughout it simply does not address the fourth step in the White test: ie. Is there risk of future abusive state conduct in approving the manner that this criminal evidence was obtained? Well, apparently not in the mind of the D'Amour court at least. We are to trust - as the court apparently does - that the thought of fraud is magically absent from the minds (successively) of the front-line ODSP worker, then the ERO, then the Fraud Control Unit - until finally at the point that the Special Review Committee, which has the authority to decide to refer to the police for fraud investigation, makes it's decision to refer. This is a fairyland.
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