Christine Gauthier

Army Veteran Christine Gauthier, a former Paralympian, testified in Canadian Parliament on Thursday that a Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) caseworker offered her euthanasia after she expressed frustration about delays in installing a wheelchair lift at her home
A disabled veteran in Canada has slammed her government for offering to euthanize her when she grew frustrated at delays in having a wheelchair lift installed in her home.

Retired Army Corporal Christine Gauthier, a former Paralympian, testified in Parliament on Thursday that a Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) caseworker made the assisted suicide offer.

After years of frustrating delays in getting the home lift, Gauthier says the caseworker told her: 'Madam, if you are really so desperate, we can give you medical assistance in dying now.'

The worker who made the offer hasn't been named, but they are feared to have offered three other veterans who contacted VAC with problems the same 'solution', Global News reported.

The scandal emerged a week after Canada's veterans affairs minister confirmed that at least four other veterans were similarly offered access to Canada's Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) law in response to their troubles, a situation Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called 'absolutely unacceptable'.

Gauthier said that she has been seeking VAC assistance in getting a chairlift for her home since 2017.

'It has isolated me greatly, because I have to crawl down my butt with the wheelchair in front of me to be able to access my house,' she told Global News.

She said she was shocked by the offer of suicide from the caseworker, which came in a conversation in 2019.

'I was like, 'I can't believe that you will ... give me an injection to help me die, but you will not give me the tools I need to help me live,'' she said. 'It was really shocking to hear that kind of comment.'

Gauthier was injured in an Army training accident in 1989, suffering permanent damage to her knees and her spine.

She competed in the 2016 Paralympic Games and Prince Harry's 2016 Invictus Games as a canoeist, power-lifter, and indoor rower.

Gauthier's testimony, and reports of other similar cases, have drawn public outcry, and Trudeau vowed to make changes.

'I have said repeatedly that this is absolutely unacceptable, and as soon as we heard about this we took action,' Trudeau said in Vancouver on Friday.

'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 there to support those people who stepped up to serve their country, to offer them medical assistance in dying,' he said.

Medically assisted suicide was first legalized in Canada for terminally ill patients in 2016, but last year, the law expanded to offer euthanasia to patients whose natural death is not believed to be imminent.

Now, people with long-term disabilities can also receive medical assistance in dying. Last year more than 10,000 people in Canada died by euthanasia.

Starting next year, a new law will allow people suffering from mental illness, which had not previously be a qualifying condition, to receive medically assisted suicide.

The expansion of Canada's euthanasia laws, already among the most permissive on the planet, has raised concerns from some quarters.


Comment: Ireland's establishment are equally eager to get going: "Unintended consequences": Ireland's assisted suicide Bill was too flawed to continue


One doctor told DailyMail.com that he is worried about the expansion, as it will turn suicide into a standard treatment for mental health conditions with little oversight or guidelines.

Dr Trudo Lemmens, University of Toronto professor of health law and policy, told DailyMail.com that the system might create an 'obligation to introduce [suicide] as a part of' mental health treatment.

'Imagine that being applied in the context of mental health. You have a person suffering severe depression, seeks help from a therapist and is offered the solution of dying,' he continued.

He fears that vulnerable patients who aren't in the right state of mind could be convinced suicide is a reasonable option. Dr Lemmens called the entire system a 'perverted concept of autonomy'.

There are already signs the system is failing some Canadians, with reports of people receiving approval for assisted suicides for diabetes or homelessness.

Last month, a Canadian man facing eviction made international headlines when he applied to be legally euthanized and die rather than face homelessness.

Amir Farsoud, 54, applied for the drastic measure after the rooming house where he lives was put on the market. His debilitating, untreatable back pain, made him eligible for medically assisted suicide under Canadian law.

Farsoud had received one of the two doctor signatures required to be accepted by the government euthanasia program -- but a GoFundMe page set up in his name by a stranger wound up raising him over $60,000 - enough to get him new housing and to change his mind about ending his life.

Last week, a Canadian fashion giant was accused of glorifying suicide after launching a media campaign that appeared to promote euthanasia.

The 'All is Beauty' video ad, launched by La Maison Simons, centers around a terminally ill woman, Jennyfer, 37, who ended her life with medication intervention in October.

The three-minute video shows Jennyfer and loved ones waving bubble wands next to the ocean, having picnics in the forest with friends and watching a puppet show.

In an audio overlay recorded weeks before her death, she says: 'I spent my life filling my heart with beauty, with nature, with connection. I choose to fill my final moments with the same... Last breaths are sacred. When I imagine my final days, I see music. I see the ocean. I see cheesecake.'

Yuan Yi Zhu, a policy expert at the University of Oxford, told DailyMail.com: 'By presenting a woman's decision to commit suicide as an upscale lifestyle choice, Simons is glorifying suicide and telling vulnerable Canadians that they would be better off dead than alive.'

The video has also drawn criticism from social media users who slammed it as 'ghoulish' and likened it to 'sci-fi dystopia'.

Since it was uploaded about a month ago, the video has garnered more than 1.1 million views on YouTube. A 30-second snippet of the video posted to Twitter has about 1.6 million views.