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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

4 Cases of Federal Department Offering Veterans Unsolicited Assisted Suicide, Says Minister

Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay on Thursday told a parliamentary committee that his department has discovered two new cases of an employee allegedly offering unsolicited medical assistance in dying, or MAiD, to veterans seeking medical treatment, bringing the total number of such cases up to four.

The issue first came to light in August after a Global News report alleged that a Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) case worker casually offered MAiD to a veteran seeking medical treatment for mental illness and brain injuries. The department said it was investigating the incident.

A retired Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) corporal named Mark Meincke later told the House of Commons veterans affairs committee that the anonymous veteran had provided him with recordings of two phone conversations he had with VAC, wherein the department apologized for offering unprompted MAiD.

However, Meincke also said that the veteran had been told in an earlier, unrecorded phone call that VAC had previously arranged for MAiD to be given to another veteran and was “now supporting his wife and two children.”

MacAulay on Thursday told the House of Commons veterans affairs committee that the department discovered two new similar cases this week, both involving the same VAC case worker. He said the total four cases occurred at various times between 2019 and the summer of 2022.

“We remain confident that this is all related to one single employee and is not a widespread or a systemic issue,” MacAulay said on Nov. 24, adding that the department has checked thousands of case files since the allegations broke in August.

“We’re going to get to the bottom of how this happened,” he said. “However, this is not a reflection of the hundreds of case managers and veteran service agents who interact with the utmost care, compassion, and respect with veterans every single day.”

Fifth Case

Conservative MP Blake Richards questioned MacAulay about another alleged instance of a veteran being offered unsolicited MAiD that was just made public Wednesday during an episode of Meincke’s podcast, “Operation Tango Romeo: Trauma Recovery Podcast for Military, Veterans, First Responders, and Their Families.”

Meincke hosted on the podcast a CAF veteran, going by the pseudonym “Bruce,” who alleged that a VAC worker told him MAiD is “always an option.”

Bruce told Meincke he had been struggling with PTSD and suicidal thoughts and had called VAC in search of medical assistance.

“Was this just unprompted?” asked Meincke, in reference to VAC’s alleged offering of MAiD.

“It was completely unprompted,” said Bruce.

Richards on Thursday asked MacAulay if the incident involving Bruce was one of the four that VAC had recently learned about.

“Is that one of these four cases?” Richards asked.

“No,” said MacAulay, adding later, “We have very little information on this. I would ask [Bruce] to please contact us.”

Richards also asked MacAulay if the VAC worker known to have offered unprompted MAiD to veterans was still under the department’s employ.

“I can tell you that this employee has no interaction with veterans,” MacAulay replied.

“It sounds like they certainly are still employed and they shouldn’t be,” Richards said.

“The labour relations process is underway,” MacAulay said.

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Peter Wilson is a reporter based in Ontario, Canada.

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