A generation has passed since more than 30,000 Canadians became infected with HIV and hepatitis C through the blood system. According to the Canadian Medical Association Journal, Justice Horace Krever’s 1997 report on the tragedy is considered to be one of the most influential reports on public health in Canadian history.
The CMAJ notes that two aspects of Krever’s recommendations transcended the blood system and have influenced broader health care policy – the adoption of the precautionary principle and a governance system that prioritizes safety.
A recent proposal to set up a series of privatized plasma collection sites across Canada using paid donations has raised questions as to whether those two principles continue to be applied. Surprisingly, Canadian Blood Services has itself played down any potential threats to both the health risks of paid donation and its own ability to compete for donors.
Given expectations around Health Canada’s decision whether to license the private collection centres, Moyo Theatre has emerged with a timely cultural intervention.
The theatre company is staging Tainted beginning next month in Toronto. The play tells the story of a family caught up in Canada’s tainted blood crisis. Directed by Dora-winning director Vikki Anderson, the theatre company states that the truth must never be forgotten: “we believe that one of the only ways to ensure catastrophes like the tainted blood crisis do not happen again is by creating a living testament to the real cost of this tragedy.”
The company notes the importance of telling this story given these new proposals around private paid donation, reminding us that such paid donations are contrary to the recommendations of Justice Krever’s Inquiry.
Actors in the play include theatre veteran Richard Greenblatt (winner of six Dora and two Chalmers Awards), Claire Calnan (voted top theatre artist in 2009 by NOW magazine) and Alex Furber (who appeared recently as Albert in the Toronto production of War Horse).
Written and produced by Canadian actor Kat Lanteigne, the play is being performed from September 26 to October 12 at the Aki Studio Theatre, Daniels Spectrum, 585 Dundas St. East (just east of Parliament Street in Regent Park). Opening day is the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Krever Inquiry. Tickets are $27-$42 each and go on sale September 1 at the Daniels Spectrum box office or you can call 1-800-204-0855.