A Canadian Forces veteran was offered euthanasia from a Government department responsible for pensions, benefits and services for war veterans after he contacted them for help with post-traumatic stress disorder.
The unnamed veteran reached out to Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) seeking treatment for PTSD and a serious back injury last month. However, the veteran was left “deeply disturbed” after a VAC employee brought up the possibility of euthanasia or assisted suicide.
Sources close to the man told Canada Global News that the “unprompted offer” of euthanasia “disrupted his progress” and had been “harmful to the veteran’s progress and his family’s wellbeing”.
The veterans charity VETS Canada, said the suggestion of euthanasia could have “very very damaging consequences”.
Euthanasia laws pressure vulnerable people to end their lives
Debbie Lowther, executive director of VETS Canada, said: “It’s kind of like planting a seed. If we have a veteran who’s already struggling with their mental health and maybe they are contemplating suicide … this is an opportunity that’s been presented to them”.
A VAC spokesperson said: “When the Veteran client called VAC to share what happened on the call, we immediately took action to address the situation and apologised to the client”.
“As directed by the Minister of Veterans Affairs, the Deputy Minister will oversee a thorough internal investigation into this matter and take any appropriate administrative actions necessary to ensure this situation doesn’t happen again”.
“In addition, all VAC frontline staff will be provided training as a reminder of the expectations and the available programs and services offered by the Department to support the health and well-being of Veterans”.
Under Canada’s euthanasia laws, assisted suicide and euthanasia can only be discussed between a patient and their primary care provider. This means that it was illegal for the VAC to discuss this topic with the veteran.
10,000 deaths from euthanasia in 2021
With over 10,000 deaths from euthanasia in Canada in 2021, a 32% increase from the previous year and accounting for 3.3% of all deaths in Canada, experts are increasingly calling into question the country’s dangerous euthanasia legislation.
In particular, experts have drawn attention to the impact that this legislation has on people with disabilities. Marie-Claude Landry, the head of Canada’s Human Rights Commission said that Euthanasia “cannot be a default for Canada’s failure to fulfill its human rights obligations”.
Landry said she shares the “grave concern” voiced by three U.N. human rights experts, who wrote that Canada’s euthanasia law appeared to violate the agency’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They said the law had a “discriminatory impact” on disabled people and was inconsistent with Canada’s obligations to uphold international human rights standards.
Euthanised to avoid a lockdown
In 2018, Roger Foley, a man with a chronic neurological disease, recorded hospital staff offering him an assisted suicide despite him being clear that he wanted assistance to live at home and not to end his life.
In 2020, an elderly woman in Canada was euthanised to avoid having to live through another COVID-19 lockdown.
Right To Life UK spokesperson, Catherine Robinson said: “This story illustrates one of the many enduring difficulties with euthanasia and assisted suicide legislation – the subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, pressure that it places on people with disabilities or who are otherwise vulnerable to end their own lives.”
“If a VAC employee really did suggest euthanasia to this veteran they should be deeply ashamed and be disciplined in some way. This man approaches VAC for help with PTSD and someone appears to have asked him whether he has considered taking his own life under the assisted suicide and euthanasia laws in Canada. This is gross behaviour which ought not to happen.”
“Given the laws in Canada though, it is virtually impossible to police this kind of thing and one suspects that the handful of cases about which we hear are merely the tip of the iceberg.”