A Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) official inappropriately referred to medical aid euthanasia with a veteran seeking treatment for mental health issues.
According to Global News, the veteran who wished to remain anonymous was told to seek physician-assisted suicide – or medical assistance in dying (MAID) – without prompting.
His family said they were shocked and disturbed when they learned of the incident.
VAC acknowledged the interaction saying what the federal employee did was inappropriate and not up to the agency’s standard.
“VAC deeply regrets what happened,” the agency said, saying “appropriate administrative action will be taken.”
“Providing advice on physician-assisted dying is not a VAC service.
It is feared that there have been other cases where veterans have been told to seek medical assistance in dying instead of seeking mental health services.
A recent poll shows Canadians are divided on whether people with mental health issues should be allowed access to physician-assisted euthanasia.
In July, Leger reported that 45% of Canadians supported offering the option to people with serious mental illness.
Additionally, 51% of Canadians were in favor of allowing people under the age of 18 to have the option of requesting physician-assisted suicide if they demonstrate “a certain level of maturity and decision-making ability”. “.
“I would describe support for the new proposals as cautious or tacit, but the high number of ‘don’t know’ responses suggests some uncertainty among Canadians, as well as an indication that discussion around these new policies is not widespread. in the whole population. said Leger Executive Vice President Andrew Enns.
“There’s nothing here to suggest that any of these (doctor-assisted suicide policies under study) are horribly wrong. There’s support to keep the conversation going. But I (also) don’t think not that there’s anything here that says, “It’s a slam-dunk, go for it.”
Recent changes to the law by the Liberal government will legally allow people diagnosed with a mental illness to be approved for physician-assisted suicide after March 2024.
Mental health advocate and suicide attempt survivor Andrew Lawton of True North said the government’s approach to the problem has normalized death as a treatment.
“Simply put, allowing people with mental illness to end their lives with the sanction and assistance of the state reaffirms the dangerous thinking that many suicidal people have once held – that it is better they dead than alive,” Lawton said.
“We cannot tell people to have hope and that life is worth living while simultaneously advocating policies that say otherwise.”