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For-profit plasma could spell disaster for Canada’s blood supply

For Immediate Release
February 20, 2024

TORONTO – OPSEU/SEFPO condemns the announcement by Canadian Blood Services that for-profit multinational pharmaceutical company Grifols will open paid plasma collection sites in Whitby, Cambridge, Hamilton in late 2024 and 2025. Grifols will be operating under an undisclosed 15-year deal with Canadian Blood Services to privatize plasma collection in Canada.

“The only way to keep our blood supply safe in Canada is to keep private, for-profit corporations like Grifols away from it,” said Geoff Cain, OPSEU/SEFPO Executive Board member and Chair of the Blood Services and Diagnostics sector. “Canadian Blood Services already collects plasma. There’s no reason why we can’t invest in our own plasma centres, and upgrade more of our blood donation centres so they can collect plasma as well from voluntary donors. We don’t need a blood-for-money system in Ontario.”

Introducing for-profit plasma collection sites where Grifols can pay donors for their plasma not only exploits vulnerable people experiencing financial difficulty, but could also create a decrease in volunteers donating whole blood to Canadian Blood Services, undermining system as a whole.

“When the profit motive is introduced into any public service, corners inevitably get cut in order to increase profits,” said OPSEU/SEFPO President JP Hornick. “We simply cannot take the chance with our blood supply that profits will trump ethics. Canadian Blood Services has the trained staff and best practices to ensure that every step of the blood collection process is done safely and ethically in a public system.”

After the tainted blood tragedy of the 1980’s, the Krever Commission made the following recommendations, reaffirmed by leading blood policy organizations around the world, including the World Health Organization:

  • Canada’s blood system should be self-sufficient
  • Blood should be a public resource
  • Donors should not be paid for blood
  • Access to blood products should be universal and free.

OPSEU/SEFPO launched NoPaidPlasma.ca in 2023, with actions and resources for the public to take to stop paid plasma collection in Ontario.

“It’s time for Canadian Blood Services to cancel their deal with Grifols,” said Hornick. “Plasma and blood are not a for-profit commodity. They are life-saving resources that should be kept in public hands.”

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For more information:

Michelle Langlois, OPSEU/SEFPO Communications Officer: opseucommunications@opseu.org