OPSEU/SEFPO, NUPGE, and BloodWatch.org Call for Canadian Blood Services CEO to resign in wake of plasma privatization deal

December 1 2022

“This deal is a betrayal of the public trust. We are calling on the CBS Board of Directors to take action to stop this deal. The security and integrity of our voluntary blood supply is at stake.” —Jason MacLean, NUPGE Secretary-Treasurer

Ottawa (01 Dec. 2022) — The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/SEFPO), the National Union for Public and General Employees (NUPGE), and BloodWatch.org are raising the alarm on secret plans to privatize plasma collection in Canada. The organizations held a protest today outside Canadian Blood Services (CBS) headquarters to demand the resignation of its CEO and Board Chair, in light of CBS’ undisclosed agreement with Grifols, a private, multi-national pharmaceutical manufacturer.

For-profit motive threatens voluntary collection

The agreement would allow CBS to exploit a loophole in Ontario’s Voluntary Blood Donations Act, giving Grifols a monopoly on plasma collection. This would mark the first time in Ontario that donors would be paid to donate plasma.

The 15-year agreement would see the creation of a 2-tier system with paid collection centres set up in Ontario and BC. This scheme goes against recommendations from the Krever Commission of Inquiry on the Blood System in Canada and threatens Ontario’s own voluntary collection efforts.

“This deal is a betrayal of the public trust,” said Jason MacLean, Secretary-Treasurer of NUPGE. “We are calling on the CBS Board of Directors to take action to stop this deal. The security and integrity of our voluntary blood supply is at stake.”

Lessons from Krever Commission ignored

The Krever Commission investigated the tainted blood scandal of the 1980s when thousands of Canadians were exposed to HIV and hepatitis C through contaminated blood products. Its findings were clear: blood is a public resource and donors should not be paid.

International guidelines for plasma collection, including the European Blood Alliance, the WHO and the International Society of Blood Transfusion all recommend that plasma donation be voluntary.

The 3 organizations argue that a shift toward paid plasma collection is not only a betrayal of the public trust and a violation of CBS’s duty to safeguard the blood system and voluntary donor base — it raises serious questions about the integrity of CBS’ leadership and decision-making.

“When profit is involved, there is a risk of losing sight of the true goal — a stable and safe supply of blood and plasma for Canadians,” said JP Hornick, President of OPSEU/SEFPO. “Profits and plasma don’t mix, and we will stand by our members at CBS who are pushing for real solutions to improve Canada’s public plasma collection system.”

Calls to cancel deal, CBS CEO to resign

They are calling on CBS to:

  • Revoke the agreement between CBS and Grifols.
  • Invest in public infrastructure by updating existing CBS blood donation centres to include plasma collection instead of outsourcing collection to a private, for-profit corporation.
  • Have Canadian Blood Services CEO and Board Chair take accountability and step down.

“The agreement between CBS and Grifols demonstrates a willful abdication of CBS’ mandated obligation to ethically protect our donors,” said Kat Lanteigne, Executive Director and Co-Founder of BloodWatch.org. “Instead of selling out to a huge, foreign-owned company, CBS should expand their plasma collection model across Canada to responsibly manage our supply chain.”