British Columbia

Fake nurse with long history of impersonation worked at Vancouver hospital for a year, police say

A woman with a long history of impersonation in other parts of Canada has been arrested and charged in Vancouver for allegedly posing as a nurse while working at B.C. Women's Hospital for a year.

Brigitte Cleroux, 49, also faces charges for allegedly posing as a nurse in Ottawa

Brigitte Cleroux looks neutral in a mugshot. She is an Indigenous woman wearing black.
Brigitte Cleroux, 49, allegedly used the name of a real nurse to work at B.C. Women's Hospital. (Ottawa Police Service)

A woman with a long history of impersonation in other parts of Canada has been arrested and charged in Vancouver for allegedly posing as a nurse while working at B.C. Women's Hospital for a year.

Brigitte Cleroux, 49, has been charged with fraud over $5,000 and personation with intent, according to a statement from the Vancouver Police Department (VPD).

Investigators say Cleroux used the name of a real nurse to gain employment at the hospital, where she provided care to patients from June 2020 to June 2021.

"We don't yet know how many people in Vancouver may have received treatment from the fraudulent nurse, but we're working with the Provincial Health Services Authority to identify patients who may have had contact with her," VPD Const. Tania Visintin said in the statement.

CBC News has previously reported that Cleroux is suspected of administering sedatives and anesthetics to patients in Vancouver without being qualified to do so.

Danette Thomsen, interim vice-president of the B.C. Nurses' Union, described the allegations as "absolutely alarming" and said she's never heard about something like this happening in the province.

"The fact that this can even happen raises questions around the controls from the health employers, and what is in place and is it enough — obviously not — to keep our patients and our staff safe," Thomsen said.

The hospital is operated by the Provincial Health Services Authority, which said it is working with police and will be reaching out to patients who received care from Cleroux.

"We can assure the public that we are reviewing this matter fully to determine how this occurred, any internal processes that may have contributed to it and impact to patients," the health authority said in a written statement.

Warning issued in June

The B.C. College of Nurses and Midwives confirmed that it issued a warning about Cleroux in June, which said she had never been registered to work as a nurse in this province. However, that warning stated her name as Melanie Smith, Melanie Thompson or Melanie Cleroux.

A black-and-white photo shows a woman with short hair.
Cleroux is shown in an older photo shared by the College of Nurses of Ontario. (College of Nurses of Ontario)

All of those names are included in a long list of aliases supplied by the College of Nurses of Ontario, which also includes Brigitte Marier, Brigitte Fournier and Melanie Gauthier .

According to a recent investigation by CBC reporters in Ottawa, Cleroux has a 30-year record of impersonating professionals including nurses and teachers.

She was charged in Ottawa this past summer after she allegedly faked being a nurse at a medical and dental clinic in the country's capital. Vancouver officers say they worked closely with the Ottawa Police Service on their investigation.

Ottawa police allege Cleroux used a forged resumé and a fake B.C. identity card using the Melanie Smith alias to get work.

Cleroux's charges in the Ottawa case include assault with a weapon and criminal negligence causing bodily harm, allegedly for administering medication and injections to patients who had no idea she wasn't certified to do so.

Never licensed to practise

Court records show that while Cleroux once attended nursing school in the U.S., she did not complete it and was never licensed to practice.

Her crimes date back to at least 1991, when she was convicted of impersonation and forgery in Quebec at just 19 years of age.

She has also been convicted of criminal mischief and property damage in Florida, as well as fraud-related crimes in Ontario and Alberta.

Cleroux has been caught posing as a nurse in Alberta and Ontario, and as a science teacher in Calgary.

In the past, Cleroux had admitted to forging a registered nurse certificate to support a job application, giving police fake identification and impersonating a former roommate with a birth certificate in the roommate's name to get a fake ID.

Vancouver police say she is currently in custody awaiting her next court appearance.

With files from Shaamini Yogaretnam and Liam Britten