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OPSEU members see blood privatization ‘red flags’

Winnipeg – The Ontario Public Service Employees Union is calling on the board members of Canadian Blood Services to defend our public blood system. OPSEU and Bloodwatch.org are among the groups that have converged to speak at CBS’ annual general meeting in Winnipeg today.

OPSEU represents more than 1300 members who work at CBS.

“We are here to tell CBS that we see the red flags of privatization everywhere within the organization, and we want it to stop now,” says OPSEU CBS and Diagnostics Divisional Executive member, Cathie Bergman – Richards. “Replacing full-time workers with part-time workers, creating a frustrating experience for voluntary blood donors and making the public believe that CBS is in crisis and needs to be saved – these are all things that make employees question where CBS is headed.”

CBS Chief Executive Officer, Graham Sher, has recently stressed the need for Canada to become more self-sufficient in blood plasma that can be turned into potentially life-saving drugs for people with immune or blood disorders. At today’s meeting, Sher announced plans for CBS to increase voluntary blood plasma collection. But advocacy groups say that’s not good enough. They want a country-wide ban on paid plasma.

Earlier this year, a private blood plasma collection company that pays donors was permitted to set up shop in Saskatchewan. That company, Canadian Plasma Resources, is also trying to secure licenses to operate in other parts of the country – a move OPSEU opposes and will continue to fight.

“This issue affects us all and unions across the country are part of this fight-back,” says OPSEU president Warren (Smokey) Thomas, speaking from the National Union of Public and General Employees convention in Ottawa.

“This is not just about one clinic in Saskatoon. It’s about the future of the blood supply in Canada. Our blood system is safe because it is public. Opening it up to companies who offer payment to donors is not going to benefit anyone who needs blood or blood products in order to survive. Their concern, is only profit.”

For more information: Sean Allen 613-794-2415