UNA supports Alberta legislation to provide secure and reliable access to donated blood

By David ClimenhagaMarch 13, 2017 15:42

Voluntary Blood Donations Act


UNA supports Voluntary Blood Donations Act

The Alberta government has moved to prevent private clinics that pay donors for their blood donations from setting up in the province.

The Voluntary Blood Donations Act, introduced by the NDP Government of Premier Rachel Notley today, has the full support of United Nurses of Alberta, President Heather Smith said soon after the legislation was made public.

“United Nurses of Alberta has been very concerned by the safety, security and accessibility implications of pay-for-plasma clinics in other provinces,” Smith said. “We strongly support the government’s decision to move ahead with this needed legislation, which will benefit all residents of our province by ensuring that blood supplies and products remain available, and safe to use.”

The bill contains significant penalties for individuals and corporations that pay donors for blood – fines of up to $10,000 a day for a first offence and up to $50,000 a day for subsequent offences for individuals, and fines of up to $100,000 a day and $500,000 a day for a subsequent offence for corporations.

If passed, the bill would prevent the province’s voluntary blood donor pool, relied on by Canadian Blood Services, from being depleted, the government said in its announcement.

“Donating blood should not be viewed as a business venture, but as a public resource, saving lives every day,” said Health Minister Sarah Hoffman in the formal announcement of the bill. “Banning paid blood donation will make sure people are donating to the same, co-ordinated, integrated blood supply network.”

Canadian Blood Services also forcefully supported the government’s move to defend Canada’s voluntary, non-remunerated, publicly funded collections model. “We are pleased to see recognition of the work and contributions of the many donors and volunteers in the province,” said CBS Chief Executive Officer Dr. Graham Sher.

“Our pan-Canadian voluntary system is integral to ensuring patients receive the highest standard of care by Canadian Blood Services,” said Kat Lanteigne, Executive Director of BloodWatch, who was also quoted in the government’s news release. The legislation, she agreed, will “protect the security and integrity of the public blood system.”

Canadian Blood Services is exempt from the provisions of the legislation. By expanding existing blood collection sites, opening new plasma collection locations and recruiting new donors, CBS hopes to increase the amount of plasma it collects in Canada, the government news release said.

The legislation aligns with the recommendations of the Royal Commission of Inquiry on the Blood System in Canada, the government said.

The World Health Organization recommends blood donations be collected from unpaid donors. Paid blood donations are already banned in Ontario and Quebec.  

Created in 1998, Canadian Blood Services co-ordinates, collects, tests and processes blood components and then dispenses blood components and blood products to Canadian hospitals.

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“We strongly support the government’s decision to move ahead with this needed legislation, which will benefit all residents of our province by ensuring that blood supplies and products remain available, and safe to use.” - UNA President Health Smith
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