In a closed-door consultation, Canadian Blood Services (CBS) is considering whether for-profit paid plasma corporations should play a greater role in Canada’s plasma supply. CUPE is firmly opposed to this idea. The consultation excluded key health care advocates, including CUPE and the Canadian Labour Congress, cutting out the voices of workers who understand the situation on the ground. This is unfair and risks damaging the credibility of CBS and public trust in consultation outcomes. 

The purpose of the consultation is to address the global shortage of plasma. In its submission, that will sadly not be taken into account, CUPE argued that CBS needs to rapidly expand its voluntary collection of plasma to address this shortage.

Right now, CBS only collects 15 per cent of the plasma needed to make Immunoglobulin, a key medicine to treat bleeding disorders, liver disease and many kinds of cancer. The remaining 85 per cent of plasma used in Canada is bought on the global open market. Approximately 500 CUPE members work at CBS, and they are ready to be part of the solution to ramp up voluntary unpaid plasma collection in Canada to protect patients and support plasma sufficiency. 

CUPE is concerned the consultation will open the door to further plasma privatization in Canada putting our blood and plasma collection system at risk. Canadian Plasma Resources, a for-profit corporation that pays people in Canada for their plasma, already has four-plasma collection sites in Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, and Alberta and are soon adding three additional sites. These for-profit operations compete directly with CBS’s voluntary donation program and undermine the commitment of volunteer donors. They also go against key principles advocated by the Krever Commission, Canada’s tainted blood inquiry, and experts at the World Health Organization that blood is a public resource and donors should not be paid. 

CUPE is concerned this consultation process is not being undertaken with transparency, accountability, or the necessary voices at the table. CBS should revisit and reform its consultation to enable public trust in decision-making about plasma collection in Canada. 

You can learn more about keeping our blood and plasma supply safe here.