It is critical that Canada’s life-saving blood system exclusively serves the public interest and not money-makers.
After the devastating tainted blood scandal of the 1980s, in which nearly 30,000 Canadians were infected with hepatitis and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), Canadian governments promised to never let such a tragedy happen again. A Royal Commission into tainted blood found that profiteering and lax standards contributed to the entry of tainted blood into the blood supply. As a response, Canadian governments created an arm’s length public blood products agency, Canadian Blood Services (CBS), to insure safety and sustainability in blood products supply for the future.
Despite this history, Health Canada has recently licensed two private, for-profit blood plasma collection clinics in Saskatchewan and New Brunswick, permitting them to open. CBS has reported a decrease in voluntary donors to the public system as they compete with the nearby profit-driven plasma clinics that pay donors. This plasma, literally bought from Canadians, is being shipped to international markets and not serving Canadians in need.
Of even greater concern, this private plasma company has a history of opening plasma collection clinics in vulnerable neighborhoods and offering payment. This practice recalls the wrongheaded decision-making that created the conditions for tainted blood to enter the Canadian blood supply in the 1980s.
The CFNU is committed to preserving and protecting the safe, public blood system that Canadians rely on every day for life-saving blood products. We believe that profits have no place in the supply of live-saving blood, and we must protect the role of CBS as an institution that is accountable exclusively to the people of Canada and not to shareholders or special interests.
The CFNU participated in a press conference on Parliament Hill on November 21, 2017, to mark the 20th anniversary since the release of the Report of the Royal Commission into the Tainted Blood Scandal and call for an end to profiteering. We will continue to work to keep profits out of Canada’s blood system.