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Union says Maclean’s article raises questions and concerns about Canadian Blood Service

Toronto – The union representing workers at Canadian Blood Services (CBS) in Ontario is demanding “change and accountability” after a recent Maclean’s magazine article raised new questions and concerns about private-sector involvement in the blood system.

Maclean’s published “A bloody mess: The story behind paid plasma in Canada” on November 22. Based on documents received through Freedom of Information dating back several years, the article details how Health Canada, with the support of CBS, worked with a private company, Canadian Plasma Resources (CPR), to establish private blood collection clinics.

It also reveals that CBS CEO Graham Sher “waved off concern that paying for plasma would hurt volunteerism.”  Meanwhile, CBS cut 30 jobs in Thunder Bay in 2012 when it shut down a plasma collection centre there due to a stated “lack of demand in transfusion plasma.”

In the wake of the tainted blood scandal of the 1980s, the Krever Inquiry established that the safety of Canada’s blood supply depends on a nationally integrated volunteer blood donation system. But as Maclean’s revealed, Sher publicly went against Krever’s recommendations when he endorsed the three-page-long “Dublin Consensus Statement,” a pro-private plasma policy developed in consultation with an industry lobby group as well as patient groups and health organizations.

“Workers at CBS are trained professionals who keep our blood supply safe in a not-for-profit environment,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “Once you open the system up to paid donation, volunteer blood donations drop. Paid donations are an ethical disaster that create a blood and plasma donor system built on the desperation of people who must sell their blood for income.

“Blood services must be public services,” he said. “Accountability is a core principle that keeps it safe.”

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931