Retired Canadian corporal and paraplegic Christine Gauthier told the country’s House of Commons last week that the Department of Veterans Affairs offered her medical assistance in dying after she requested accommodations for her home.
“With respect to me, I have a letter in my file, because I had to face that as well,” Gauthier testified in French. “I have a letter saying that if you’re so desperate, madam, we can offer you MAID, medical assistance in dying.”
According to the former Paralympian, she has been requesting a home wheelchair ramp be installed.
“I sent a letter to Prime Minister [Justin Trudeau] and [Veterans Affairs] offered me MAID and would supply equipment,” she said.
Upon hearing of her case last week, Trudeau said, “We are following up with investigations, and we are changing protocols to ensure what should seem obvious to all of us: that it is not the place of Veterans Affairs Canada, who are supposed to be there to support those people who stepped up to serve their country, to offer them medical assistance in dying.”
Gauthier’s testimony was a part of the larger debate over offering MAID to veterans. Last month, Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay said an investigation revealed that a department employee likely spoke to nearly four veterans about ending their lives through MAID.
Following Gauthier’s claim, Canadian Deputy Minister Paul Ledwell told the veterans affairs committee Monday that after pouring through more than 400,000 files, there is no evidence that an employee offered MAID to the former athlete.
“There’s no indication in the files in any correspondence, in any notation, based on engagement with a veteran of reference to MAID,” he said. Ledwell encouraged the veteran to submit any files that show the offer to be included in the investigation.
Gauthier said in subsequent interviews that the MAID offer was extended verbally in 2019 but that she wrote it down in her files, which she agreed to submit.
This is just the latest controversy to come out pertaining to Canada’s euthanasia program. In 2021, 10,064 MAID provisions were reported. According to the country, these accounted for 3.3% of all deaths in Canada.
To be eligible for MAID, a person must be “18 years old and mentally competent.” While the country requires that recipients have a “grievous and irremediable medical condition,” it notes that “you do not need to have a fatal or terminal condition to be eligible.”