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Canada’s veterans affairs offers assisted suicide to veteran with PTSD

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with French president Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris, on June 7, 2019. (Pierre Villard/Pool/Abaca Press/TNS)
August 19, 2022

A Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) employee offered advice on medically assisted suicide to a Canadian military veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and a traumatic brain injury. The veteran was seeking mental health treatment at the time and did not bring up assisted suicide.

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According to Global News, the VAC confirmed that a Canadian veterans affairs employee mentioned medically assisted suicide during a conversation with a veteran who was seeking mental health treatment. 

The combat veteran — whose identity was not revealed by Global News — never brought up assisted suicide and was shocked by its mention. 

The VAC said in a statement that “medical assistance in dying was discussed inappropriately.”

“VAC deeply regrets what transpired,” the service’s statement read. The VA also noted that the incident is under investigation and “appropriate administrative action will be taken.” 

The VAC did not provide any details of the investigation nor what specific action might be taken. 

According to sources close to the veteran, both he and his family were disturbed by the suggestion and said they felt betrayed by the VAC. The sources added that the veteran was looking for help with issues he developed in the line of duty. The veteran was improving both mentally and physically, they added, but the assisted suicide discussion slowed his progress. 

VAC eventually apologized to the veteran after he filed multiple complaints with the agency. 

Medically assisted suicide was legalized in Canada in 2016. Not everyone is eligible for the procedure, according to the Canadian government’s website. To qualify, an individual must be eligible for government-funded health services funded by the federal government, be at least 18-years-old and mentally competent, have a “grievous and irremediable medical condition,” voluntarily request the life-ending procedure independent of outside pressure or influence, and give informed consent. 

Beginning in March 2023, people with mental disorders will also be able to access medically assisted suicide, according to Global News.

VAC noted in its statement to Global News that the service does not provide medically assisted suicide, nor does it provide such procedures. 

“Providing advice pertaining to medical assistance in dying is not a VAC service,” the statement continued, adding that VAC employees “have no mandate or role to recommend medical assistance in dying to veteran clients.”

At the same time Canada is preparing to roll out assisted suicide, it’s also cracking down on guns.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his intent to crack down on handguns earlier this year by halting their sale, importation, and transfer in the country. He also introduced several other anti-gun measures, including one that seeks to force Canadians to turn in their AR-15s to the government or have them made inoperable.