Health professionals call on governments to prevent another tainted-blood scandal

Canadian Health Professionals Secretariat supports BloodWatch in its call for federal and all provincial and territorial governments to prohibit paid blood and plasma donations.

Ottawa (12 April 2016) — To protect Canadians, the federal and all provincial governments must join the provinces of Quebec and Ontario in prohibiting for-profit corporations that pay for blood and plasma donations, says the Canadian Health Professionals Secretariat (CHPS).

This call comes in the wake of the establishment of a for-profit plasma clinic in Saskatchewan. Ontario recently joined Quebec in adding plasma and blood products to its human tissue legislation, thereby prohibiting payment for donations.

Must not repeat tainted-blood disaster 

In the 1980s, tainted-blood infected at least 2,000 Canadians with HIV and about 30,000 with Hepatitis C. It is estimated that about 8,000 of those infected died. It has been described as Canada’s worst ever preventable health disaster. 

"We have been down this road before and the cost to many Canadian families was terrible,” says Elisabeth Ballermann, Co-Chair of CHPS. "It is frightening that we may be going down the road again now.” 

Canada’s tainted-blood scandal was followed by a public inquiry headed by Justice Horace Krever. It spent 4 years investigating the scandal and one of its recommendations was that donors of blood and plasma products should not be paid.

“Have we learned nothing from the tainted-blood scandal and the Krever Commission? We must not reopen this Pandora’s box,” says Karen Wasylenko, President of the Health Sciences Association of Saskatchewan (HSAS), one of the CHPS constituent organizations.

Now is the time for action!

CHPS is calling on the Trudeau government and all provincial and terrirotial governments to fulfill their role in protecting Canadians from another preventable health disaster.

As well as endangering Canadians who need life-saving transfusions and blood-based medicines, paying donors for blood products also preys on the poor and vulnerable in our society, according to CHPS. For-profit blood and plasma collection clinics are often established near homeless shelters and addiction treatment facilities.

Following the tainted-blood scandal, Canadian Blood Services was established to safely manage Canada’s blood supply. Its mission is to operate “Canada’s blood supply in a manner that gains the trust, commitment and confidence of all Canadians by providing a safe, secure, cost-effective, affordable and accessible supply of quality blood, blood products and their alternatives.” 

Join with BloodWatch campaign

At its semi-annual meeting in Edmonton, CHPS joined the call of BloodWatch, an advocacy organization whose goal is to have the federal and all provincial governments prohibit paid blood and plasma donations.

The Canadian Health Professionals Secretariat (CHPS) is a national advocacy body that represents 100,000 unionized health professionals who deliver the diagnostic, clinical, rehabilitation and preventative services that are essential to timely and quality health care.

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 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

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