"We would ask the federal and all provincial governments and territories to follow Quebec and Ontario's lead in prohibiting for-profit corporations that pay for blood and plasma donations." — Elisabeth Ballermann, NUPGE Secretary-Treasurer
Ottawa (15 Nov. 2016) — Blood safety and public health care advocates met on Parliament Hill today to deliver a petition signed by 15,000 Canadians calling to ban private donor-remunerated and for-profit plasma collection in Canada, despite Minister Philpott's refusal to receive the petition.
Communities already facing shortage of blood donors, shouldn't have to compete with for-profit clinics
"We are asking that a moratorium be put on all licenses granted or pending to Canadian Plasma Resources so we can secure the safety and integrity of our Canadian blood supply. We have consulted extensively with Canadian Blood Services and it has been acknowledged that none of the plasma collected by these new private blood brokers will benefit Canadian patients," said Kat Lanteigne, Executive Director, Blood Watch. "This is an urgent and pressing issue that Minister Philpott needs to address in an open and transparent manner."
Speaking on Parliament Hill with NDP Health Critic Don Davies, advocates expressed their concern with private, for-profit blood clinics, especially during a time when Canadian Blood Services is trying to expand their plasma collection sites. In some provinces it remains a struggle to have enough donors to ensure there is an adequate supply of blood to serve communities. *« La Société canadienne du sang a affirmé que 450 donateurs additionnels par mois au Nouveau-Brunswick sont nécessaires pour assurer notre approvisionnement en sang. Nous ne pouvons tout simplement pas gérer la concurrence pour les donateurs,» a dit Susie Proulx-Daigle, présidente, Syndicat du Nouveau-Brunswick.
All governments need to learn from the tainted blood scandal
"We would ask the federal and all provincial governments and territories to follow Quebec and Ontario's lead in prohibiting for-profit corporations that pay for blood and plasma donations," says Elisabeth Ballermann, Secretary-Treasurer of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE). Ballermann is also the Co-chair of the Canadian Health Professionals Secretariat. "In the 1980s, at least 2,000 Canadians were infected with HIV, while 30,000 were infected with Hepititis C, you would think that we would have come to value our blood system by now instead of handing it off to private companies for their profit."
Ballermann continued, "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. For-profit blood and plasma collection clinics are often established near homeless shelters and addiction treatment facilities."
Access to blood needs to remain a public resource
Tom Graham, President of the Canadian Union of Public and General Employees (CUPE) in Saskatchewan, where the only private for-profit plasma collection clinic is currently operating, expressed his concerns about Canada's ability to secure our domestic supply of plasma. "The current private plasma collector will sell all the plasma they collect to the highest international bidder giving Canada no guarantee of improving our own supply," said Graham. "And paying individuals for their plasma will only reduce the number of potential donors in our superior voluntary, public blood supply system."
Pauline Worsfold, Secretary-Treasurer of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Union said, "We echo the call from Minister Jane Philpott to put a moratorium on all licenses to Canadian Plasma Resources and any other private blood broker that has applied; to allow for a transparent consultation on the impact of private blood brokers to our public voluntary system; and to protect the Canadian public blood system by implementing a ban on the practice of selling blood and plasma to ensure blood and plasma remains a public resource."
Blood Watch was joined by the Canadian Health Coalition, Canadian Federation of Nurses Union, New Brunswick Nurses Union, New Brunswick Union and the Canadian Union of Public Employees.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 370,000 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