Letter to the editor: Concerns about paying plasma donors in Canada

The Canadian Health Coalition and CUPE do have serious concerns about paying plasma donors in Canada. The comments published in the National Post on August 24th left out some crucial details about the for-profit donor collection system being introduced in Canada.

First, paid plasma will not increase the domestic supply of plasma in Canada. Canadian Plasma Resources, the for-profit plasma collection chain has commented in the media that they are looking to Europe to buy Canadian plasma. Because of international trade deals, once Canada begins selling overseas we will not be able to safeguard and store Canadian plasma for Canadian use even in the event of a blood borne virus which may affect the international plasma supply.

Canada is only a year into for-profit collection and Canadian Blood Services (CBS), the public blood collector, is already reporting a decrease in voluntary blood donation in Saskatoon, the site of the first for-profit collection centre. This is consistent with trends reported in most of the 5 other countries that allow for-profit and voluntary collection. Canada is only the sixth country in the world to pay plasma donors.

The World Health Organization and other international health bodies are urging countries to collect 100% of their blood and plasma products from voluntary sources by 2020. Canada’s own Krever commission that looked into Canada’s tainted blood scandal of the 1980s recommended the same.

To ensure the safety and security of Canada’s plasma supply, we must support CBS’ non-profit, voluntary donor system. Currently, we only have 7 voluntary donor plasma collection sites in all of Canada but CBS has a plan to rapidly expand. We need premiers and the federal government to support CBS and protect our voluntary plasma collection.

Adrienne Silnicki
National Director, Policy and Advocacy
Canadian Health Coalition

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