All the election talk raises the question of whether the opposition parties will pull the plug on the present minority government before passage of a bill that will ban paid plasma collection in the province.
The Voluntary Blood Donations Act 2014 was referred to the legislature’s Standing Committee on Social Policy after it passed second reading April 14.
The question is, will the parties drag the Act out in committee to an inevitable death, or will they push it back quickly to the legislature for third reading? The former, rather than the latter seem more likely at this point. Readers concerned about this issue may want to contact their MPP’s soon to encourage passage.
The private for-profit Canadian Plasma Resources has already opened its doors in Toronto without licensing from either the Federal or Provincial governments.
Yesterday Dr. Ryan Meili (EvidenceNetwork.ca) and Dr. Monica Dutt (Chair, Canadian Doctors for Medicare) published an op/ed in the Globe and Mail arguing paid plasma donation “poses significant ethical, safety and public health concerns.”
They made particular note of the World Health Organization’s caution that where paid blood donations are permitted, the number of voluntary donors decrease. This point should be underlined given the blood shortages Canada faced towards the end of last summer.
It’s been almost two years since we stumbled upon a plan by a private for-profit company to open a series of clinics that would pay Canadian donors for plasma.
The last voluntary dedicated plasma collection center operated by Canadian Blood Services (CBS) had just closed its doors in Thunder Bay a week earlier in April 2012.
CBS has always maintained that there was never any connection between the two events. On the one hand CBS said they didn’t need the plasma generated from Thunder Bay, on the other a commercial company was being set up to exploit a world-wide demand for plasma to be manufactured primarily into intravenous immunoglobulin, used commonly to boost immunity during cancer treatments.
Such private companies are not that unusual in the world, but in Canada sensitivities remain particularly raw given the so-called “tainted blood” scandal. About 30,000 Canadians suffered the consequences of imported paid plasma into this country from the United States in the 1990s. We met one of the survivors as we protested the closure in Thunder Bay.
Their employer fled town, but the workers are still there.
Canadian Blood Services wasted no time in vacating the premises formerly occupied by the Thunder Bay Plasma Donor Clinic up until April 12.
While CBS maintains closure of the clinic was in the works for some time, they had to break their lease and other contracts to make their quick getaway out-of-town. We have no idea what that cost, but along with the layoff of 28 managers and staff, I’m sure they regard it as “just business.”
Initially selling the public on the idea that they had too much plasma — this in a country that has never been self-sufficient in plasma – it has become clear that the real reason behind the closure is financial.
Put simply, it’s cheaper to buy products with source plasma collected from other countries than it is to collect it here and have it fractionated abroad.