Banff-Airdrie MP Blake Richards believes there have been at least two cases and possibly more of veterans being offered unprompted medical assistance in dying (MAiD) and wants to get to the bottom of the issue.
Today, further testimony was provided to the standing committee of veterans affairs probing the investigation into an offer made to a combat soldier for doctor-assisted euthanasia by a Veterans Affairs casework twice. That veteran said he was told Veterans Affairs had carried out the service for others.
Richards, who is vice-chair and the Conservatives Veterans Affairs shadow minister, said he left last Thursday's meeting concerned with how often unprompted offers have been extended to veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder.
"When you have a situation where a veteran goes to Veterans Affairs looking for help, the last thing you'd think you would have expected is for them to say well, have you ever thought about killing yourself?" said Richards. "That's a pretty serious situation, and we all should be worried about it."
He said they received two or three different versions of the story during the Oct. 20 meeting.
"Usually, when I hear two or three versions of the story, that means someone's not telling the truth. I left there pretty worried because now we know there are at least two veterans who have had this suggestion made to them, and it sort of sounds to me like one of them went through with it and they might no longer be with us. They wouldn't confirm that, but usually, when they won't confirm something that means the bad news"
He remains concerned there have been more unprompted offers made.
"If you have veterans calling into our government for help and the suggestion being made to them is maybe they should consider getting medical assistance in dying... I don't even have words for what that is."
Today, it was confirmed a recording of the conversation existed regarding the offer for medically assisted death.
“We were told the conversation was only surrounding benefits that were available to the veteran, and that medical assistance in dying wasn’t pushed or proposed,” Richards said at today's meeting.
“You’ve indicated to us that it was pushed, and pushed numerous times despite insistence from the veteran that they weren’t interested.”
He is perplexed by how long it has taken to probe the issue.
"This news came out over two months ago, and it has been even longer than that since the incident happened. To me, that's a pretty serious situation and I would have thought an investigation into it should have been a top priority. You're talking of potentially people's lives being at risk, I don't think you screw around with that."
"I'm pretty concerned that here we are more than two months later and we still don't have answers."
Richards was recently assigned to the Veterans Affairs shadow post by the Conservatives and says he's honoured to play that role.
"I didn't serve in the military myself, and I don't pretend to be an expert in veteran issues by any means, but one thing I bring to it is my deep respect for veterans. I think when it means something to you, you're going to do a good job because you care and that's the approach I bring to it."