IG news Update,
The federal government is launching a “full and thorough” investigation into the case of a Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) employee who is discussing medical assistance in dying (MAID) with a veteran.
In a statement to Global News on Friday afternoon, a spokesman for Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence Macaulay said the minister has “directed his deputy minister to conduct a thorough and thorough investigation of the matter.”
McAuley is also ordering that, “all front line employees of Veterans Affairs Canada be given formal training, direction and advice on how to approach the issues surrounding MAiD,” the statement said.
The investigation and training comes as Global News first reported on August 16 that a Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) employee had discussed a medically assisted dying with a veteran, a matter that has been discussed by veterans’ advocates. Said, clarified the obvious stakes of the ongoing struggle for veterans to get support.
Sources told Global News that a VAC service agent brought up the unsuspecting MAiD in a conversation with a war veteran who was seeking treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and a traumatic brain injury.
Global News is not identifying the veteran who was seeking treatment because of privacy concerns, but has spoken directly to the person, who says the service agent repeatedly brought up MAiD and even Asked to stop the service agent by that veteran.
The veteran said that he felt pressure as a result.
‘Deny, delay, die’: Supportive death discussion renews warnings about gaps in veteran care
He also said that the service agent told him in the call about helping another veteran access resources for medical assistance in dying through Veterans Affairs Canada, including support for the children of the person who died of imminent death. were struggling with.
The veteran told Global News that the service agent told him the second veteran had died medically, and that it was someone determined to end his life.
“Better than blowing your mind all over the wall or driving your car into something,” says the veteran, the service agent told him, describing that isolated case.
Veterans Affairs Canada said earlier this week that it was looking into the matter.
The department and its staff do not have the capacity to provide resources for assisted death, but veterans advocates have raised serious concerns about the implications of raising this topic.
Veteran’s suggestion to spark medically assisted death of VAC worker asks for probe
“It’s like planting a seed,” said Debbie Lowther, executive director of VETS Canada, a charity that helps veterans in crisis.
“If we have a veteran who is already struggling with their mental health and perhaps they are contemplating suicide … this is an opportunity presented to them.”
For some, the thought of taking their own life and finding a loved one’s body can be a deterrent to going through suicidal thoughts, she explained.
But instead offering the option of medically assisted death, Lothar said, “it can have very, very harmful consequences.”
Veterans Affairs says worker ‘inappropriately’ discussed medically assisted death with veteran
Bruce Monkur, founder of the Afghanistan Veterans Association of Canada, voiced similar concerns.
“Had he been closer to the seasoned edge, there would probably have been hairs breaking the camel’s back,” he said in an interview. “It’s so cavalier with one’s life.”
Monkur sustained a traumatic brain injury after being shot in the head while fighting and deployed as a reservist in Afghanistan. He said that learning of a service agent bringing medical help to a dying veteran made him feel “shock, indignation, anger”.
“my understanding [is] This employee is still on the payroll and still working on his job, which is unacceptable to me. I just don’t understand how this person can be trusted even now,” he said.
“I’m wondering, is this my case manager? Is this someone I’m trying to take care of myself?,
Monkur, whose fellow NDP MP Nicky Ashton is, also criticized Macaulay’s performance in the job.
He said he sits in the Service Excellence Advisory Group, which advises the minister, and tried to call an emergency meeting about the matter.
“He declined my request,” Moncur said. “He said we were going to have a meeting in September anyway, so can wait until then.,
Assisted dying casts Veterans Affairs mental health support in doubt: Advocate
Global News sent Veterans Affairs Canada officials a list of detailed questions about the specifics of the allegations made by the veteran. In response, the department said they do not record phone conversations between veterans and employees to protect privacy.
The department said it could not confirm allegations made by the veteran that the service agent described helping a different veteran access medical assistance in the dying, or about the veteran’s claim that the agent told a different veteran. That MAID was “better than blowing your mind out.”
The veteran, who spoke with Global News, said that he has filed several complaints about the service agent since July 21, 2022.
A spokesperson for Veterans Affairs Canada said, “When the veteran customer called VAC to share what happened on the call, we immediately took action to address the situation and apologized to the customer.”
“As directed by the Minister for Veterans Affairs, the Deputy Minister will oversee a thorough internal investigation into the matter and take appropriate administrative action as may be necessary to ensure that this situation does not happen again.”
“In addition, training will be provided to all VAC frontline staff in the form of a reminder of the expectations and programs and services available by the department to support the health and welfare of ex-servicemen.”
Under Canadian law, medically assisted death can only be discussed between a primary care provider such as a physician or psychiatrist and their patient.
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