Veterans Affairs says only one employee offered medically assisted death to clients
Veterans Affairs Canada says a single employee suggested medical assistance in dying (MAID) to four veterans, and that the issue is not widespread in the department.
On Friday, the department released the results of what it called a months-long investigation. The department launched the probe last year after a veteran told them an employee suggested they consider MAID.
The department said last year that the caseworker is no longer employed at Veterans Affairs and that it had referred the matter to the RCMP. It did not provide any details about the employee or how they left the department.
The department said it immediately apologized to the veteran and reassigned their file.
"The department deeply regrets what transpired and understands the seriousness of these completely isolated incidents," Veterans Affairs said in a news release.
The investigation could not verify other alleged cases reported to the House of Commons standing committee on veterans affairs, according to the report.
Department officials said in a briefing Friday that the number of alleged cases Veterans Affairs looked at was less than 20 and more than four.
They said one of the four veterans in the confirmed cases is now dead. They said the department could not confirm whether any of the four had pursued MAID since their conversations with the former employee.
It added that Veterans Affairs will strengthen employee training on MAID and increase monitoring of the issue.
"Prior to this incident, there was no specific guidance on MAID included in [Veterans Affairs] training materials because it was understood that veterans should only discuss MAID considerations with their primary care provider," the report said.
Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay called the incidents "totally unacceptable."
"The report clearly confirms that these four cases were isolated to a single employee and we have referred this matter to the RCMP," he said in the news release.
"Our frontline employees are completely dedicated and care deeply about the veterans they serve each and every day. Veterans can trust that VAC is always available to support their needs in a respectful and compassionate manner."