Health Bulletins

Minister Matthews' Letter to Provincial and Territorial Colleagues to Preserve the Integrity of the Voluntary Blood and Plasma Donation System

March 14, 2014

Dear Colleagues :

Following the tainted blood scandal of the 1980s and the Krever Commission, Canada's national blood system was established on the principle of voluntary donation through an agreement by the federal, provincial and territorial governments.

That's why I'm writing today to outline the steps our government is taking to prohibit the operation of private paid plasma clinics in Ontario and to encourage a consistent, pan-Canadian approach to this issue.

As you may be aware, Health Canada has received a licence application from at least one private, for-profit company seeking to open plasma collection sites in Ontario that would pay people for their plasma. Health Canada's stated view is that provincial-territorial governments can determine if a company may provide payment to donors for plasma.

Over the past year, I've heard from many health care organizations and individual Ontarians, including tainted blood victims, who are opposed to private, for-profit plasma collection.

I agree that the integrity of our public, voluntary blood donor system must not be compromised, which is why our government is taking the necessary action to prevent this from happening in Ontario.

As a first step, we intend to propose regulatory amendments that, if enacted, would strengthen the licensing requirements for labs and specimen collection centres to prohibit paying donors for their blood or blood constituents, including reimbursement of expenses or other forms of compensation. We're currently seeking public comment on these proposed regulatory amendments.

We also intend to introduce new legislation in the coming weeks that, if passed, would clearly prohibit making payments to blood donors in Ontario. This proposed legislation would also amend the legislation governing labs and specimen collection centres to expand the public interest grounds to deny a licence for new blood collection facilities and to strengthen our lab enforcement regime so we can take quick and decisive action in case of violations.

I have full confidence in the national blood system we've developed in Canada since the Krever Commission. I also believe that Canadian Blood Services has the capacity to successfully manage the blood and blood products supply for Ontarians.

Ontario is proud of our voluntary, life-saving blood donation system and I will continue to encourage Ontarians to give blood and plasma voluntarily.

Sincerely,
Deb Matthews
Minister

c : Dr. Graham Sher, CEO, Canadian Blood Services

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