It’s been more than two years since we said goodbye to the staff and donors of Canadian Blood Services’ Thunder Bay plasma collection centre. October 30 we will be returning there again as part of a unique cross-province campaign to keep our blood system safe.
OPSEU is proud to sponsor the upcoming tour of Tainted by playwright Kat Lanteigne. A performed reading of the play will take place in seven Ontario cities October 18-30: Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton, London, Windsor, Kingston, and Thunder Bay. All readings will be free to the public, but tickets should be reserved in advance. It will also be performed directly at Queen’s Park and in the center block of the Canadian Parliament to MPPs, MPs and their staff. Those attending the Ontario Health Coalition Action Assembly weekend will also be treated to a performance of the play on the evening of Saturday, October 18.
To secure a seat, please go to http://moyotheatre.com/tainted-tour/
Tour dates and locations are at the end of this post.
Behind the issue
In 2012 CBS said it had a surplus of plasma and no longer needed the Thunder Bay clinic which collected more than 10,000 units per year. We noted at the time that CBS coincidentally was increasing its imports of plasma from the United States by 10,000 units. That includes plasma from individuals who were paid for their donation, a practice that remains controversial.
We were in for another surprise shortly after CBS shuttered its Thunder Bay clinic.
In 2013 Health Canada held a by-invitation-only roundtable on the issue of paid plasma donations following our efforts to raise concerns over the application by the private Canadian Plasma Resources (CPR) to go into competition with the public Canadian Blood Services.
CPR had plans to immediately open two clinics in downtown Toronto to pay donors for plasma that would be turned into pharmaceutical product. A third in Hamilton was on its way. Their website says they still plan to do so in 2014.
Former Ontario Premier Bob Rae has jumped into the debate, noting that both Hema-Quebec and Canadian Blood Services are now both opposed to licensing for CPR.
Writes Rae in today’s blog post: “Those countries that have allowed “pay for plasma” schemes are regretting the decision. The reason is simple, and is based on practical evidence. These clinics typically rely on people who need the money. There is every reason to question the safety of the supply. Just as important, paying some people depletes the pool of potential donors, particularly among younger people who blood agencies around the world are trying to recruit to give blood as volunteers.”
Rae does not understand the delay by Heath Canada in saying no to the license application by CPR.
“For whatever reason, it’s taking federal and provincial governments a long time to make up their minds. It shouldn’t,” writes Rae. “The integrity of the blood supply, and our continuing resolve to keep a strong volunteer base, should make the answer simple: no to “pay for blood or plasma”. Period.
To read Rae’s full BLOG post, click here.
For more on the ethics of this issue, click here.