For Immediate Release
Ottawa, ON – Cathay Wagantall, Member of Parliament for Yorkton—Melville, is appalled by mounting evidence at the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs that a Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) service agent discussed medical assistance in dying (MAiD) with at least two injured Veterans seeking care.
“Veterans face a greater risk of suicide compared to the average population,” said Wagantall. “What we’re hearing at committee is truly frightening. Instead of facilitating the most appropriate care possible, this employee chose to repeatedly broach a subject that is entirely outside of VAC’s authority.”
Earlier this year, allegations that a VAC service agent “unexpectedly and casually” discussed MAiD with a Veteran seeking treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder were reported by Global News. In response, members of the Veterans Affairs committee have begun hearings on the matter. Witnesses have unveiled further details concerning the nature of the phone calls and the effect the conversations have had on more than one Veteran.
Mark Meincke, a Veteran close to one of the victims, revealed specific details about the conversations with the VAC employee.
“…In that conversation he was told, ‘We've done it before, and we can do it for you, and the one that we've done it for and has completed MAiD, we are now supporting his wife and two children.’”
Meincke went on, stating that the Veteran, who had been seeking VAC assistance for a common service-related injury, was told, “‘oh just by the way, if up the road you have suicidal thoughts… it's better than blowing your brains out against the wall.’”
Meincke stated that the phone call distressed the Veteran enough for him to leave the country.
Oliver Thorne, executive director of the Veterans Transition Network, told committee members that the allegations have come as a “serious wake-up call” to the Veterans care community.
“My fear is that we are offering a vehicle for people to end their lives when there are treatment options available, but those treatment options are more difficult to access than medically assisted death,” he said.
Wagantall, a member of the Veterans Affairs committee since 2016, said that the evidence underscores serious faults in the way benefits and services are rendered to Veterans and their families. To her, the witness testimony is appalling, but not surprising.
“Parliament has failed in its duty to protect vulnerable Canadians — and especially our Veterans — in need of help. Our lawmakers have made decisions that increasingly devalue life. I believe it’s time to put a stop to these rapid legal shifts before they cause irreversible damage to Canada’s social fabric.”
Wagantall noted that the committee has passed a motion to have Veterans Minister Lawrence MacAulay return to the committee to address these new allegations which contradict the Minister’s earlier testimony. In a previous appearance, the Minister told MPs that the distressing phone calls were limited to only one Veteran.
“We now know that the actions of this VAC employee have resulted in serious harm to one Veteran, and potentially led to the death of another,” she said. “This kind of advice can lead to tragic consequences. Conservative members are determined to get to the bottom of it.”
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