Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) releases report into allegations of inappropriate conversations with Veterans about Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD)
10 March 2023 – Ottawa – Veterans Affairs Canada
Veteran Affairs Canada has released the results of a full and thorough investigative process into allegations of inappropriate conversations with Veterans about MAiD in a report delivered to the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs. The report provides an overview on what the Department’s investigative process found and the steps taken to ensure this situation does not happen again.
Following a comprehensive review and analysis, the Department has concluded there were four incidents isolated to a single employee, and not a widespread, systemic issue. The Department deeply regrets what transpired and understands the seriousness of these completely isolated incidents.
Veterans Affairs Canada staff are committed to ensuring a continued, high standard of service and care for Veterans and their families. The department has learned from this regrettable situation and new and strengthened quality assurance processes, combined with increased staff training and guidance will help prevent this type of situation from happening again. An independent and objective review of the escalation process will also be conducted by the VAC Audit and Evaluation Division.
The Department is committed to maintaining Veterans’ trust. While early actions have been taken to ensure this type of incident does not happen again, further actions aimed at maintaining Veterans’ trust will be taken.
“As I’ve said from the very beginning, what happened to these Veterans is 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. 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.”
The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence
On July 21, 2022, a Veteran contacted the Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) call centre to file a complaint about a VAC employee who the Veteran alleged had inappropriately raised Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) to the Veteran during a phone conversation earlier that day. The Veteran indicated the employee also referred to having provided information on MAiD to another Veteran.
The Department took immediate action by apologizing to the Veteran and reassigning the Veteran’s file to the employee’s manager.
Recognizing the seriousness of the allegation, the Department initiated a fact-finding process on July 22, 2022. On August 19, the Minister of Veterans Affairs instructed the Department to conduct a full and thorough investigative process of all aspects related to the situation.
Based on the review and analysis of the employee’s 2,153 files; a search of all 402,000 files in VAC’s databases; discussions with case managers, Veteran service agents and their managers; a review of all incoming communications to the Department on this issue; and feedback from staff training and information sessions, VAC has concluded there were four incidents isolated to a single employee who is no longer employed with the Department.
VAC thoroughly investigated all additional allegations which included a Veteran’s full name. No information was found to validate any of these allegations.
The report concluded that this is not a widespread, systemic issue, nor is it a reflection of the work of hundreds of case managers and Veteran service agents who interact with the utmost care, compassion and respect with Veterans every single day.
VAC will continue to review any allegations brought forward which include a Veteran’s full name. Any Veteran who is not comfortable bringing an issue forward to the Department can contact the Office of the Veterans’ Ombud.
Veterans Affairs Canada
Erika Lashbrook Knutson
Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs
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