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Protect public blood system by outlawing for-profit plasma collection: OPSEU

TORONTO – The federal government is jeopardizing the health of blood recipients in Canada by its failure to draft legislation that would make private, for-profit plasma collection clinics illegal, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) said today.

The union issued its call following news today that Canadian Blood Services (CBS) advised Health Canada seven months ago that its polling revealed that seven of 10 young Canadians, aged 18 to 34, would opt to be paid for donating plasma over the current practice of voluntary donations in a public system. Despite the warning from CBS that pay-for-plasma clinics could draw donors away from the public collection system, Ottawa went ahead and granted permission for a private clinic to open for business in Moncton, N.B., in May.

“I find those numbers very troubling,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “They suggest that unless the federal government takes action now to shut down these private clinics and prohibit more from opening, we’re at risk of losing donors who represent the backbone of our future, national public blood system.

“I’m also calling on Premier Wynne and Health and Long Term Care Minister Eric Hoskins to make the case to their federal counterparts to strengthen our public collection system by refusing to license any additional private clinics.”

OPSEU represents more than 2,000 CBS workers in Ontario. Sean Allen, chair of the union’s CBS sector, said the reluctance of Ottawa to prohibit for-profit, plasma-collection clinics, represents creeping privatization that will ultimately weaken Canada’s national public blood system.

“The evidence from the U.S. and Hungary, countries where payment for plasma is commonplace, shows that donors are moving away from donating to the public system,” said Allen. “We mustn’t allow the same to happen in this country.”

Thomas noted that 2017 marks the 20th anniversary of the final report of the Krever Inquiry into tainted blood. The chief finding of the report was that Canada must maintain a thoroughly public blood system.

“Let’s not neglect the memory of 1,200 Canadians who needlessly died from contaminated blood products by handing over parts of the system to profiteers,” he said.

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931
Sean Allen,  613-795-2415