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An Alberta repeal would threaten Canada’s blood and plasma supply

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas is raising the alarm in the wake of an Alberta private member’s bill that would repeal that province’s Voluntary Blood Donation Act, warning that doing the same in Ontario would contribute to the destruction of Canada’s essential blood plasma stocks. 

“To Premier Ford and Health Minister Christine Elliott: don’t even think about it,” says Thomas. “You know it and we know it: The Alberta idea to privatize collections will put lives at risk. Just as selling out our seniors by privatizing long-term care homes in Ontario has been fatal, doing the same to our blood and plasma production will only have disastrous effects.” 

The Alberta bill isn’t thinking about Albertans or Canadians, says Thomas. 

“The majority of plasma collected by private for-profit plasma collectors is exported and sold to the highest global bidder. Canadians and Albertans would not benefit. Why not rely on Canadian Blood Services to take on this work? That would be the responsible choice and would ensure the plasma collected benefits Canadians and is collected in a safe and efficient manner. “  

Canadian Blood Services is scheduled to open three stand-alone plasma collection sites and one of them is in Lethbridge, Alberta, Thomas noted. 

“Why now would the Alberta government consider repealing the Voluntary Blood Donation Act to allow private for-profit plasma collectors to operate?” asked Thomas. “It cannot happen. Our members have served as heroes during this pandemic by continuing to maintain our blood system in a safe and efficient manner.”  

There is a solution that will keep Ontario and Canada’s blood and plasma supply at levels needed and it’s been in front of us all along, said Geoff Cain, OPSEU CBS and Diagnostics Chair. 

“We’ve been reminded through the COVID-19 pandemic just how important national self-sufficiency is. Canadians know their blood and plasma collections should never be products to be sold to the highest bidder in the global marketplace,” said Cain. “The safety and security of the nation’s health is the priority, not the profit of big multinational corporations. Canadian Blood Services and member unions across the country have delivered and will continue to meet that responsibility.”