The Conservatives are calling for an investigation into allegations that a Veteran Affairs (VAC) worker recommended medical assistance in dying, or MAID, to a veteran seeking treatment for his injuries.
“It has come to my attention that a Veteran seeking access to treatment from Veterans Affairs Canada for PTSD and a traumatic brain injury related to their service was reportedly offered, entirely unprompted, access to Medical Assistance in Dying by a VAC employee,” read an Aug. 17 statement by Conservative MP Frank Caputo, the shadow minister for veterans affairs.
Caputo noted that VAC is not mandated to recommend assisted death as a medical option for veterans and said that the anonymous veteran in this situation “felt betrayed and disgusted by the suggestion.”
“An investigation must be opened to determine the full scope of this incident and to discover if others have been similarly harmed,” Caputo said on Twitter on Aug. 17.
The allegations first became public this week after an anonymous veteran seeking treatment for a post-traumatic stress disorder and a brain injury told Global News that a VAC worker “casually” offered him MAID.
The veteran said he never expressed any desire to receive MAID and that the unprompted medical advice impacted his mental well-being.
VAC RespondsVAC told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement that it “deeply regrets what transpired” and issued an immediate apology to the veteran as soon as it became aware of the incident.
“Providing advice pertaining to Medical assistance in dying is not a VAC service,” read the Aug. 17 statement, adding that VAC has “no mandate or role to recommend medical assistance in dying to Veteran clients.”
Canada’s assisted dying laws dictate that, in order to receive MAID, the patient must express interest in the service without being prompted or coerced by a healthcare worker. Among the criteria, the patient must also be suffering from “unbearable physical or mental suffering” that cannot be cured in a manner deemed acceptable by the patient, and “be in an advanced state of decline that cannot be reversed.”
Euthanasia first became legal in Canada in 2016 for adults aged 18 years and older who were suffering from a terminal illness and had no possible cure available.
Legislators later expanded the qualifications for receiving MAID to include individuals suffering from “serious illness”—excluding mental illness—who are in an irreversible “advanced state of decline” and are experiencing “unbearable” physical or mental pain.
The law is set to change in March 2023 to allow individuals suffering solely from mental illnesses to receive MAID, provided they are at least 18 years old, and make a voluntary request for it.
The Conservatives have criticized the expanded legislation since it passed in Spring 2021, with MP and justice shadow minister Rob Moore saying the Liberals “did not listen to mental health advocates” before amending the law.
A 2017 VAC report discovered that veterans are almost 1.5 times more likely to die by suicide than Canadian civilians. The report also observed a higher average of mental health issues among veterans than it did among the general population.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.