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For-profit plasma clinic goes against report on patient safety

REGINA, Feb. 18, 2016 /CNW/ - With news that Saskatchewan is opening the first for-profit plasma donation clinic in the country, Unifor calls on the federal, provincial and territorial ministers of health to re-affirm the three principles governing the Canadian blood system adopted and affirmed by their predecessors in 1979:

I.      protection of the system of voluntary donation;

II.     national self-sufficiency in blood and blood products;

III.     gratuity of blood products to recipients.

Unifor urges the current ministers of health to also uphold the five basic principles that were recommended by the 1997 Krever Report to govern the Canadian blood supply:

  1. Blood is a public resource.
  2. Donors of blood and plasma should not be paid for their donations, except in rare circumstances.
  3. Whole blood, plasma, and platelets must be collected in sufficient quantities in Canada to meet domestic needs for blood components and blood products.
  4. Canadians should have free and universal access to blood components and blood products.
  5. Safety of the blood supply system is paramount.

The Krever Report drew vital lessons from the unprecedented public health disaster that resulted in nearly 30,000 Canadians being infected with HIV and hepatitis C. The Krever Report could not have been more emphatic: Profit should not be made from the blood that is donated in Canada as a fundamental value.

"Profit taints our blood system as surely as it taints our health services", said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. "If we have learned from the events leading up to the Krever Report, it's that we have to prevent this from ever happening again."

Saskatchewan is not the first province in which the private company Canadian Plasma Resources has tried to set up for-profit clinics. The same company tried to open clinics in Ontario until the province passed legislation forbidding companies from paying people for their plasma in 2014. Bill 21, the Safeguarding Health Care Integrity Act was passed unanimously in Ontario on December 9, 2014 and bans payment for blood and plasma donations.  The company is currently registered as lobbying the government in Nova Scotia.

"Patient safety is the most important thing," said Joie Warnock, Unifor Western Region Director. "We learned a very painful and traumatic lesson about the use of for-profit blood product collection over 30 years ago and shouldn't forget the reasons these principles were put in place."

The safety of Canada's blood supply is a federal responsibility that falls to Health Canada although provincial and territorial governments have the authority to allow or disallow the payment of plasma donors. While the sale of cells, tissues and organs are banned under provincial and territorial legislation, the provinces and territories do not specifically ban paying blood and plasma donors, with Quebec being the one exception.

Unifor is also calling on Canadians to petition the Government of Canada to refuse to issue or approve any license to Canadian Plasma Resources or other private, for-profit, donor-paid blood products company to operate in Canada; and implement legislation that ensures for-profit, donor-paid blood donor clinics are not allowed to operate in Canada. 

An electronic version of the petition to the House of Commons sponsored by NDP MP Don Davies, Vancouver Kingsway is available at:

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 310,000 workers. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union merged.