Canada’s Veterans Affairs office offered to assist a veteran in committing suicide after she asked to have a wheelchair lift installed in her home, the woman told the House of Commons Veterans Affairs Committee last week.
Christine Gauthier, a retired corporal and competitor representing Canada at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janiero, testified to lawmakers that a VA official had offered in writing to provide her with an assisted suicide kit, which contains medication for someone to end their own lives. Gauthier had been fighting for a wheelchair lift for her home for five years.
“I have a letter saying that if you’re so desperate, madam, we can offer you MAID, medical assistance in dying,” Gauthier said in a hearing before the House of Commons veterans affairs committee, as reported by the CBC.
The case officer remains unnamed but reportedly made similar offers to at least three other veterans, Canadian news outlets reported over the weekend.
The head of a wounded warrior group that supports Canadian veterans says he was horrified to hear of the incident, but it’s not an isolated story. In August, officials confirmed to CBC News that they issued an apology to a veteran who called for counseling, only to get a recommendation by the counselor that he could get assistance with dying.
As many as five Canadian military veterans seeking help for post traumatic stress disorder were offered option of MAID by at least one Veterans Affairs Canada caseworker, and the matter is now in the hands of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for investigation; the caseworker known to have offered the suicide program is on leave.
MAID is the acronym in Canada for medical assistance in dying. Earlier this year, the practice was legally expanded to be available to those with mental illness; it has been available to terminally ill people since 2016, after in 2015 the Canada Supreme Court ruled in Carter v. Canada that parts of the Criminal Code would need to change to satisfy the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The parts that prohibited medical assistance in dying would no longer be valid. The Supreme Court gave the government until June 6, 2016, to create a new law. Read about the history of the MAID laws at the official Canadian government website.
In 2017, researchers in Canada said that doctor-assisted suicide could reduce annual health-care costs by as much as $136.8 billion, according to a report in the Canadian Medial Association Journal.
The savings would far exceed the estimated cost of the MAID program, which was then estimated to be up to $14.8 million a year.
“The take-away point is that there may be some upfront costs associated with offering medical assisted dying to Canadians, but there may also be a reduction in spending elsewhere in the system and therefore offering medical assistance in dying to Canadians will not cost the health care system anything extra,” said Aaron Trachtenberg, an author of the report and a resident in internal medicine at the University of Calgary.
The use of medically assisted suicide keeps expanding in Canada, where health care is socialized, difficult to access, and costly to the public. MAID deaths now comprise nearly 5% of all deaths in Quebec and British Columbia, while in 2020, the doctor-assisted suicides were only 2.5% of all deaths.
It gets worse: Canadian fashion retailer Simons began promoting the Canadian euthanasia program with an ad that focused on the beauty of self-deletion.
The video ad, “All is Beauty,” featured a woman who opted for the program in advance of ending her life. After she starred in the ad, she killed herself, according to her plan. The ad is being criticized for glamorizing suicide and indeed makes it look like a very lovely choice.
The euthanasia program is now is being recommended by some doctors for disabled babies up to one year of age.
Dr. Louis Roy, of the Collège des médecins du Québec, or Quebec College of Physicians, told the House of Commons’ Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying on Oct. 7 that it’s an appropriate alternative for infants who have “severe malformations” and “grave and severe symptoms” and whose “prospect of survival is null, so to speak.”
Krista Carr, executive vice-president of Inclusion Canada, a disability rights group, said infants cannot give consent and doctors’ predictions are “far too often based on discriminatory assumptions about life with a disability.” She called the killing of babies “murder.”