Health Canada must protect Canada's public blood supply, not increase risk by expanding private collection

"Health Canada should focus on patient safety and supporting Canada's public blood system. Instead, they are supporting private companies to undermine our voluntary donation system.” — Larry Brown, NUPGE President

Ottawa (30 July 2019) — Health Canada has approved an application from Canadian Plasma Resources to increase the number of times a person can provide plasma from once every 6 days to twice per week. The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is strongly against the for-profit paid-plasma collection model that Canadian Plasma Resources is responsible for promoting in Canada. NUPGE continues to demand that Health Canada revoke the licences that it granted for this practice and work to ensure the safety and integrity of our voluntary collection system.

Health Canada ignoring lessons of Krever

This increase in the rate of collection granted to Canadian Plasma Resources is double what Canadian Blood Services (CBS) allows. CBS runs Canada's voluntary blood donation system on behalf of all Canadians. Health Canada has been under pressure to revoke licences for companies paying for plasma, because this model is a clear contravention of the Krever Commission's recommendations. Justice Horace Krever was unequivocal that blood was a public resource and that donors should not be paid. Health Canada is seeming to ignore the lessons of the worst public health disaster in Canadian history, one that was avoidable, and which we must ensure does not happen again.

Health Canada's actions not honoring legacy of victims of tainted blood

Health Canada should honor the legacy of the tens of thousands of Canadians infected with either HIV or Hepatitis C during the tainted-blood scandal. Since the source of the tainted blood was private corporations who paid for the plasma they collected, Justice Krever rightly warned about the dangers of this model of collection. Canadian Blood Services, which is funded by our governments and operates on our behalf, has also said that allowing payment for plasma puts the voluntary blood-donation system at risk.

"Canada's blood supply is threatened by pay-for-plasma private clinics. And it is the responsibility of our federal government to reverse the ill-advised licences granted by Health Canada and implement a federal ban on paid plasma, just as we ban payment for human tissue in Canada," said Larry Brown.

Federal ban on paid plasma needed to protect Canada's blood supply system

Federal government inaction to protect Canada's voluntary blood supply has meant that provincial governments have had to institute their own bans, and the Senate has put forward a private member’s Bill S-252 (Voluntary Blood Donations Act). Unfortunately, Bill S-252 was stalled in the Senate, but the bill's sponsors have committed to redrafting and reintroducing the bill during the next parliament. Bans on paid collection have been implemented in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta. These are the 4 provinces with the largest populations; together they represent almost 85% of the population in Canada. NUPGE applauds the actions of these 4 provincial governments but has been clear that only federal action to implement a Canada-wide ban on paid plasma will safeguard the entirety of our blood system.

NUPGE stands with public advocates to protect voluntary donation system

NUPGE stands with BloodWatch and all health care advocates who continue to call for a federal ban on paid plasma. We believe that Canadians do not want to risk another tainted-blood scandal and that for-profit corporations should not be allowed to undermine our voluntary, donation-based blood system. CBS has called for an expansion of its plasma collection system to meet the needs of Canadians, and NUPGE calls on governments to implement an expansion of plasma collection through CBS. NUPGE represents Canadian Blood Services’ workers in 6 provinces, and our frontline members are very aware of the risks of paid plasma to the integrity of Canada's blood supply.

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE