Okotoks veteran Mark Meincke testified before the House of Commons standing committee on veteran's affairs yesterday (October 24.)
Meincke divulged details told and shown to him by a veteran who was allegedly offered medical assistance in dying (MAiD) by a Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) case worker.
The veteran wished not to reveal their identity but did exchange multiple phone calls and emails with Meincke where he relayed his experiences.
The story initially emerged in August and was met with uproar from veterans and veteran advocates.
Meincke’s testimony provided further details, including that MAiD was offered several times, and that the case worker had allegedly told the veteran that MAiD services had been completed with another veteran.
“She said ‘we can do this for you, because I’ve done it before, and one veteran that we’ve done this for, after we completed MAiD, after we killed him, we now have supports in place for his wife and his two children.’ That is what he told me transpired,” Meincke told the committee.
The subject of MAiD is said to have come unprompted, with the veteran seeking help with a "common service-related injury," unrelated to mental health.
“He expressed to me that things were sunshine and roses prior to this phone call. He was feeling good about life. Post phone call, he left the country because he was devastated by this phone call. It’s called sanctuary trauma, where the place you go steps on your neck, and that’s what happened here,” says Meincke.
On Wednesday of last week, the same committee heard from Veterans Affairs Canada representatives, whose stories seem to conflict with the information provided by Meincke.
During last week’s testimony, VAC claimed the initial call had not been recorded.
Meincke expressed doubt at that claim.
“I don’t believe the call was not recorded; I don’t believe that’s even possible. Even if that was true somehow, there would be notes. There’s always notes, there’s a summation of the conversation. Because you have to. I don’t know a single veteran in this system who hasn’t gone through a case worker every six months. There has to be records, there has to be notes, this has to be documented because when they burn out and a new case worker comes in, they’d be starting from zero with no notes, that doesn’t make any sense. Of course, there’s notes. My bank records all my calls, of course it’s recorded.”
During the first call, the VAC case worker is alleged to have told the veteran that MAiD was "better than blowing your brains out against the wall."
The veteran did not record the initial phone call but did record two subsequent calls.
The recorded calls, which Meincke characterized as “apology phone calls,” were between a VAC manager and the veteran, wherein the manager is said to have apologized on behalf of the case worker.
Meincke told the committee he had copies of the calls, as well as transcripts.
Last week’s testimony also included no mention of other cases where MAiD was offered to veterans, let alone that it was carried out.
Committee members expressed alarm at the testimony, including Shadow Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Blake Richards.
“This is incredibly alarming, to hear this account that it was pushed upon him to the point where it caused him to be in a far worse place than he was prior to the phone call, but also the fact that we hear there was another veteran and that that was followed through with.”
In his opening statement, Meincke stressed the struggle that many veterans go through to take the first steps in seeking help.
“I went undiagnosed for 23 years. You want to see a 23-year trainwreck? I’ll give you my biography. And that is the common story. I run into veterans that are Vietnam and Korea veterans that are just now reaching out for help. People in their 70s and 80s who are just now reaching out for help... When I made that first phone call, it was a thousand-pound telephone.”