Moose Jaw – Lake Centre – Lanigan MP Fraser Tolmie is continuing to put pressure on the Ministry of Veteran Affairs after it came to light that a veteran suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was offered assisted suicide.
In an ongoing investigation by the standing committee on veteran affairs, in which Tolmie is a member, they were told by a Veteran Affairs Canada worker that it was an isolated incident.
Tolmie believes that it was more than just one incident that took place.
“We've been told that it's been one incident, and so if it's one incident, one isolated incident, then why is this investigation continuing? So, for me, that's a red flag,” he said.
In late October, Tolmie called on the Minister of Veteran Affairs Lawrence MacAulay to personally apologize to the veteran for being given the option to die. MacAulay responded that he would be willing to apologize personally but couldn’t do so because of privacy issues.
As for the former mayor of Moose Jaw, Tolmie said he understands that there can be privacy issues but felt that MacAulay hasn’t even made of effort to reach out to the veteran.
“If you were to ask through a caseworker if it would be OK to contact that person and then to apologize, at least make an effort, but there was no effort,” Tolmie said.
This all comes at a time when there are calls for MacAulay to resign as the Minister of Veteran Affairs due to delays, backlogs and staff shortages at Veteran Affairs Canada.
Tolmie added that offering assisted suicide is just adding to the problem.
“It's heartbreaking when you hear that we've got increased case numbers of vets waiting to be processed for medical issues, and then you hear that here's a way to reduce the numbers is by killing off our vets who have served our country and who have been undervalued,” he said.
Tolmie said the committee is still looking for answers as to how this could have happened. He believes someone went beyond their mandate and that the conversation for assisted suicide should be between a doctor and patient and it is not under Veteran Affairs Canada’s mandate. Tolmie added that assisted suicide has been legal since 2016 and there should be been training for Veteran Affairs Canada workers to deal with these situations.