Canada urged to change stance on care for Norwegian veteran, 94

The case of a 94-year-old Norwegian veteran living in Canada who's been denied care at a Halifax veterans' facility is shocking, says a veterans advocate in Norway.

Petter Blindheim 'deserves the utmost care,' says Norwegian advocate Jens Inge Egeland

Petter Blindheim, 94, wants to move to a veterans' hospital in Halifax. His family is battling Ottawa to get care for the war hero. 0:56

The case of a 94-year-old Norwegian veteran living in Canada who's been denied care at a Halifax veterans' facility is shocking, says a veterans advocate in Norway.

The Canadian government contends Petter Blindheim's war service doesn't make him eligible to stay at the Camp Hill Veterans' Memorial hospital and doesn't allow for access to long-term care assistance. He has lived in Canada for 61 years.

"I have to say I was very disappointed, and I was very shocked that this could take place, because he did his service when that was called upon. He deserves the utmost care and to receive service for his participation in the Allied forces," veterans advocate Jens Inge Egeland told CBC's Information Morning in an interview aired Monday.

'He saved a lot of lives'

Starting in 2015, Egeland began doing research to find living Norwegian vets from the Second World War to nominate them for commemoration medals. In the U.S., he found 19 veterans still alive, but only one in Canada — Blindheim. 

Egeland says Blindheim is the most decorated veteran of the bunch.

Petter Blindheim wants to spend his final days at the Camp Hill Veterans' Memorial hospital in Halifax. Blindheim is the last Norwegian-born veteran living in Canada. (Peter Blendheim)

"He saved a lot of lives in World War II, because during a torpedo attack, he removed the primer of a depth charge at his battle station. And by doing that, he saved many men that [were] in the water already that certainly would have been injured or killed when this boat went down," he said.

On June 15, two officials from the Norwegian embassy in Washington, D.C., will be in Halifax to present Blindheim with a commemoration medal.

Blindheim received six war medals while serving with the Royal Norwegian Navy. Allied veterans are entitled to benefits under the War Veterans Allowance (WVA).

Blindheim was turned down for care because he enlisted during the German occupation of Norway during the Second World War and fought as part of the "resistance" effort, Veterans Affairs Canada ruled. 

"They based their conclusion on the wrong information, because they said he was in the Merchant Navy. He was in the Royal Norwegian Navy, who sailed under Norwegian flags, but they were under allied command and sailed with Canadian ships, American ships and British ships," said Egeland.

Norwegian media involved

He says the case is attracting attention in the Norwegian media, and says he's been interviewed about it.

A story posted on the website of the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet has the headline "Norwegian war hero denied space at home for veterans in Canada."

Egeland hopes the Canadian government changes its decision about Blindheim's case.

"We consider him a big hero and he deserves the best of care," he said.

With files from CBC Information Morning and Angela MacIvor

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