UNA reemphasizes support for bill to provide secure and reliable access to donated blood

Voluntary Blood Donations Act

United Nurses of Alberta
“We don’t need to repeat the mistakes of the past." - Heather Smith, President, United Nurses of Alberta

United Nurses of Alberta supports the provincial government’s Voluntary Blood Donations Act because allowing commercial pay-for-plasma businesses to operate in Alberta would have made it harder to achieve a key recommendation of the 1997 Commission of Inquiry on the Blood System in Canada, UNA President Heather Smith said today.

“One of the clear recommendations of the Krever Inquiry was that Canada should work toward a system in which importation of blood products was no longer necessary,” Smith explained.

“Permitting pay-for-plasma operations will make that goal harder to achieve, and open the door to commercial export of products that are needed in this country,” she said.

“The legislation introduced Monday will strengthen Canadian Blood Services and help ensure there is always a safe and adequate supply of donated blood so that patients who need blood and blood products can get them when they need them,” Smith said.

While companies that hope to purchase and sell blood and blood products are bound to try to make a case with the public for their business, the health care professionals in UNA’s membership believe Alberta is best served by a strong and accountable single public source of blood and products made from it, she added.

Smith said it is significant that the Krever Inquiry’s recommendations in 1997 included enshrining non-payment of blood donors, treatment of blood as a public resource, and free access to blood and blood products as basic principles of the blood supply system. “It is encouraging that Alberta and some other provinces are acknowledging these recommendations in legislation.”

UNA does not support the arguments of corporate advocates that provinces should not outlaw “pay-for-plasma” schemes while the country’s blood supply remains partly dependent on foreign sources of blood and blood products, Smith observed.

“We need a secure supply of blood products in Canada, and a strong, voluntary, national supply system is the best way to achieve it,” she said. “We agree with the government that donating blood should not be viewed as a business venture.”

“We don’t need to repeat the mistakes of the past,” she concluded.