More than 50 volunteer health care advocates from across Canada were in Ottawa on October 30th to meet with MPs and Senators, urging them to make Bill S-252, the Voluntary Blood Donations Act, law. The Senate Bill, aiming to ban paid blood collection, passed second reading last week and will now be debated in public Senate hearings.
“Private companies are buying blood from people in Canada to sell on the international market, undermining the security and availability of the blood supply in the public system that Canadians rely on,” said Kat Lanteigne, Executive Director of BloodWatch.org.
Despite warnings sent by Canadian Blood Services (CBS) to the federal Health Minister in 2016, 2017 and 2018, explaining that for-profit collectors are harmful to the security of Canada’s blood supply, Health Canada has continued to license them. In their warnings, CBS shared evidence that they are losing voluntary donors and spending more on advertising to compete with profit-making blood collectors.
“Canada’s nurses have seen first-hand how the introduction of private, for-profit companies that pay for blood are threatening our ability to collect enough plasma to meet public need,” said Linda Silas, President of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU). “It is critically important that we support the Voluntary Blood Donations Act and defend the public blood supply that we all depend on.”
Bill S-252 was introduced by Saskatchewan Senator Pamela Wallin in the spring of 2018 and has the support of Conservative Senator Don Plett from Manitoba. Independent Senator Chantal Petitclerc referred the Bill to committee.
The Bill seeks to tighten the law related to key recommendations of the Krever Inquiry into Canada’s tainted blood scandal, when 30,000 people were infected with Hepatitis C and HIV in the 1980s as a result of receiving tainted blood. The resulting Inquiry’s 1997 final report recommended that blood be considered a public resource and that donors should not be paid.
“It’s extraordinary that blood brokers were able to gain so much internal support within Health Canada when all of the international and domestic evidence points to the fact that competition in blood collection is the wrong policy direction to take,” said Lanteigne.
“People have come on their own time from every corner of Canada to support this Bill, recognizing its critical importance,” said Silas. “We are confident that once the evidence is presented before the Senate committee, we will gain full support for the swift passage of this Bill.”