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A message in honour of World Blood Donor Day – June 14, 2017

World Blood Donor Day June 14
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OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas, and Sean Allen, Chair of OPSEU’s Canadian Blood Services and Diagnostics Sector released the following statement today in honour of World Blood Donor Day.

Each year, on June 14, World Blood Donor Day is celebrated worldwide in recognition of voluntary and unpaid blood donation, widely acknowledged as the safest method of collecting blood. Thousands of lives are saved every year by the public blood system, and so, on this day we pay tribute to the generous donors, and also the staff at Canadian Blood Services, who together make up the fabric of Canada’s public blood system. Thank you to each and every one of you for your invaluable contributions.

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) proudly represents 1200 members working for Canadian Blood Services. 

Our public blood system is worthy of much celebration. Canada is completely self-sufficient when it comes to blood collection and supply for direct-use. But our system also faces significant issues, including the persistent threat of privatization.

When it comes to blood products, we rely on paid US plasma donors for 70 per cent of our plasma used to produce medications. CBS projects we are headed toward 90 per cent dependency in the near future, and this is concerning.

While OPSEU supports the World Health Organization’s goal for 100 per cent of blood and blood products to be collected by voluntary donors worldwide, it’s important to recognize – especially today — that in order to reach this goal, we need the appropriate investments to build and staff new plasma collection facilities in Canada. A thriving public blood system is the best protection against creeping privatization.

While Ontario, Alberta, and Quebec do not allow payment for plasma, the federal government has allowed a private blood plasma collection company that pays donors to set up shop in Saskatchewan. Canadian Plasma Resources (CPR) is looking to secure licenses to operate in other provinces, and just recently opened another private facility in Moncton, New Brunswick.

This is troubling news, as private plasma collection undermines Canadian Blood Services’ volunteer donor base. Only corporate interests are served by this competitive model, not the public interest.  

We’ve come a long way since the tainted blood scandal of the 1980s. But as each year goes by, and as Canada’s worst public health tragedy slips further into history, we must never forget the important lessons learned, many of which were outlined by the Krever Report: that blood is a public resource; donors should not be paid; Canada should become self-sufficient in blood products; access to blood products should be free and universal; and the safety of the blood system is paramount.

As we recognize World Blood Donor Day, here are two simple things we can do to show our commitment to the public blood system:

  • Sign up to become a blood and plasma donor at www.blood.ca
  • Support the Canadian Health Coalition’s national campaign to keep blood donations voluntary!

In solidarity,

Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President, OPSEU

Sean Allen, Chair, Canadian Blood Services and Diagnostics Sector, OPSEU