World Blood Donor Day: Ontario’s voluntary donation system under threat by for-profit pharmaceutical giant


World Blood Donor Day, recognized every year on June 14, was initiated in 2004 by the World Health Organization. The aim was to raise awareness about the critical need for safe blood and blood products, and to express gratitude to donors for their voluntary, life-saving gifts of blood.

This year’s theme – “GIVE blood, GIVE plasma, SHARE life, SHARE often” – underscores the importance of voluntary donation. It is a call to action — not a call to commodify these life-saving resources.

However, the recent announcement by Grifols, a Spanish multinational pharmaceutical giant, to acquire federally-regulated Canadian Plasma Resources (CPR), has sparked significant concerns. This deal effectively monopolizes Canada’s blood collection, transforming our blood and plasma services into an American-style, for-profit system.

Canadian Blood Services (CBS), the architect of this backroom deal, has a responsibility to protect the blood system and voluntary donor base. Yet, through this agreement, CBS has essentially established a two-tier system for plasma collection in Ontario and sold market access to Canada’s donor base to a foreign-owned company, forsaking their duty to the Canadian public.

Following Canada’s tainted blood scandal in the 1980s, that resulted in the loss of approximately 8,000 lives, the Krever Commission of Inquiry on the Blood System in Canada recommended a fully voluntary, transparent, non-remunerated blood and plasma donation system. The CBS deal with Grifols disregards Justice Krever’s historic recommendations and threatens to erode the transparency that the CBS Board is mandated to uphold.

We call on the Ontario government to uphold The Voluntary Blood Donations Act. We urge CBS to rescind the illegal deal with Grifols and instead fulfill its mandate to Canadians based on the Krever Commission recommendations.

As we observe World Blood Donor Day, we encourage all Canadians to donate and support our robust public, voluntary blood system. This system prioritizes the health and well-being of Canadians over profit. Let us remember that blood is not a commodity to be sold for profit, but a gift of life to be shared.

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