SUN President, Tracy Zambory, wrote to the federal Minister of Health, Jane Philpott, this morning to express SUN’s strong opposition to the licensing of Canadian Plasma Resources as a for-profit blood plasma donation clinic in Saskatchewan.
March 1, 2016
The Honourable Jane Philpott
Minister of Health
Brooke Claxton Building, Tunney’s Pasture
Dear Minister Philpott:
I write on behalf of the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses (SUN) and our more than 10,000 Registered Nurse (RN), Registered Psychiatric Nurse (RPN) and Registered Nurse (Nurse Practitioner) (RN(NP)) members to express our strong opposition to the licensing of Canadian Plasma Resources as a for-profit blood plasma donation clinic in Saskatchewan.
Saskatchewan registered nurses believe the introduction of a pay-for-plasma clinic in Canada poses a serious safety risk to our blood supply.
In 1993, a Royal Commission of Inquiry on the Blood System in Canada, led by the federally appointed Justice Krever, was established in response to the tainted blood scandal that infected over 30,000 Canadians with HIV and Hepatitis C in the 1970s and 1980s. This four-year inquiry resulted in explicit recommendations that would prevent such a tragedy from ever occurring again. SUN is deeply concerned that any company paying donors for plasma would be operating in direct contravention of these recommendations and would once again be placing Canadians in great peril.
Justice Krever’s report recommended the establishment of Canadian Blood Services (CBS) as a national not-for-profit organization responsible and accountable for the blood supply in Canada. CBS was to be governed by five principles:
- Blood is a public resource.
- Donors of blood and plasma should not be paid for their donations, except in rare circumstances.
- Whole blood, plasma and platelets must be collected in sufficient quantities to meet domestic needs for blood components and blood products.
- Canadians should have free and universal access to blood components and products.
- Safety of the blood supply system is paramount.
It is these principles that have ensured consistent public confidence in the Canadian blood system. Canadians trust that CBS will guarantee the safety of the blood system by ensuring proper screening of all blood and blood products. Health Canada now risks undermining this trust by allowing paid donations.
The Canada Food and Drug Act obligates the Minister of Health to regulate and protect Canada’s blood and plasma supply.
Minister Philpott, we therefore request that you immediately prevent Health Canada from issuing licenses to any clinic intending to pay donors for blood or plasma.
Furthermore, we ask that the Federal Government move to prohibit the licencing of private plasma collection in Canada.
Finally, Saskatchewan’s registered nurses are urging you to expand non-paid collection of blood with the goal of having Canada self-sufficient in blood products with a publicly- regulated, not-for-profit voluntary blood and plasma system.
Tracy Zambory, RN
President Saskatchewan Union of Nurses
Pauline Worsfold, Chairperson, Canadian Health Coalition
Dustin Duncan, Minister of Health, Government of Saskatchewan
Linda Silas, President, Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions
Dr. Graham Sher, CEO, Canadian Blood Services
SUN Board of Directors