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NUPGE supports World Blood Donor Day and calls for action in Canada

“Canada’s blood supply continues to be threatened by pay-for-plasma private clinics. The theme for this year's World Blood Donor Day is "Donating blood is an act of solidarity." NUPGE stands in solidarity with Canada's voluntary blood donor system and calls on governments to ban paid plasma. We must not repeat the mistakes of the tainted- blood scandal, which allowed profit to devastate our blood supply.” — Larry Brown, NUPGE President

Ottawa (14 June 2022) — World Blood Donor Day is a day to raise awareness of the need for safe blood and blood products and to highlight the contribution voluntary, unpaid blood donors make to our health care system.

Unfortunately, Canada has not protected our system from private clinics that are paying for plasma, and this represents a serious threat to our current system. The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) has long stood with our allies such as the Canadian Health Coalition and BloodWatch to demand an end to paid plasma in Canada.

Private paid plasma is expanding

Quebec, Ontario and B.C. are the country's 3 largest provinces and represent almost three-quarters of our population. These provinces still have provincial legislation banning the practice of paying donors for their blood and plasma. Alberta, which had previously banned paid plasma, removed this restriction when the UPC government gained power. 2 new paid-plasma clinics are set to open in Calgary and Edmonton ; there are also clinics in Saskatchewan and New Brunswick.

For a few years the proponents of paid plasma were losing ground, but without a federal ban, there is always the risk that new provincial governments will allow these for-profit clinics to open. This is why federal action is critical to protect our health care system.

Federal legislation is the only real solution

Federally, Health Canada continues to allow paid plasma clinics, forcing provincial governments to be the gate keepers in defence of our blood supply. To avoid another health crisis related to our blood and plasma supply, it is critically important that Canada learn the lessons outlined by the Krever Commission, which can be found on the BloodWatch website.

NUPGE renews its call for a federal ban on paid plasma as the only way to ensure the safety of the highly integrated Canadian blood system. This World Blood Donor Day, NUPGE is working in solidarity with all of our members who work collecting, delivering and processing blood products through Canadian Blood Services (CBS) and calls on governments to expand collection through CBS and ban on paid plasma. 

Canada 1 of only 6 countries allowing paid plasma

Canada is now 1 of only 6 countries in the world to allow the collection of paid plasma. Canadians continue to suffer from the effects of the tainted-blood scandal that caused widespread HIV and Hepatitis infections in the 1990s and was the worst such public health tragedy in the world. 

The tainted-blood crisis infected 30,000 Canadians with HIV and hepatitis C due to contaminated blood and blood products. It is estimated that over 8,000 Canadians will die as a direct result of this preventable tragedy.

The precautionary principle and safety

COVID has clearly demonstrated that there are new viruses that can severely impact our health care system. The paid plasma model has been proven to not be as safe and secure as the voluntary donation model, and this is why the World Health Organization (WHO) calls for a 100% voluntary system.

Canada is putting our blood and plasma supply at risk and not following the precautionary principle by allowing for-profit paid plasma clinics to operate. The proliferation of these paid-plasma clinics is being allowed in direct violation of the Krever recommendations and WHO guidelines. 

NUPGE is once again calling on federal and provincial governments to ban paid plasma and to invest the needed resources to expand voluntary plasma donation to meet the needs of Canadians.