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Nova Scotia, Keep Our Voluntary Plasma System Safe!

This past week the co-founder of Bloodwatch.org, Kat Lanteigne, was in Halifax as part of a cross-country educational tour. Lanteigne’s trip included a public event co-sponsored by the NS Health Network and Council of Canadians as well a press conference with the NS-NDP Health Critic, Dave Wilson. Lanteigne and Wilson urged the Premier Stephen McNeil and the NS Liberals to vote on and pass Bill 43 – the Voluntary Blood Donations Act. “Nova Scotians do not want to see corporation buying and selling blood and plasma. Paying for plasma is a slippery slope” said Wilson.

Pay-for-Plasma Panel Discussion in Halifax, April 25th 2016

Left to right: Angela Giles (Council of Canadians, Atlantic Organizer), Ian Johnson (NS Health Network, board member), Francoise Baylis (Canadian Research Chair for Bioethics and Philosophy), Kat Lanteigne (BloodWatch.org), Tori Ball (Council of Canadians Organizer), Katelyn Armstrong (NS Health Network, Volunteer Coordinator) 

The protection of our voluntary and safe blood and plasma donation system is (what is plasma?) is not a partisan issue. This is not the time to politic a blurry line between “blood donation” vs non-remunerated donation, as suggested by Health Minister Leo Glavine’s statements in the Legislature. This is a slippery slope whereby non-cash payment, such as Visa gift cards, could be used as payment and still abide by the World Health Organization’s definition of “voluntary” donation.

The myth that private-paid plasma clinics will benefit Canadians has been dispelled by several experts. “This is our public blood system that is being privatized for personal profits. It needs to be known that none of that plasma collected by CPR can be used for Canadians – it is for export only,” said Lateigne. We need to follow the lead of Quebec and Ontario, which have both pass legislation on the issue. CBC stated, “Quebec has forbidden the sale of human blood or plasma, and Ontario recently prohibited paying blood or plasma donors.”

Health Canada continues to abdicate its duty to regulate plasma. Canadian Blood Services’ CEO Graham Sher said he “won’t rule out” the possibility of paying donors. This lack of provincial and federal leadership on the issue necessitates a groundswell of blood safety advocates, plasma donors and recipients, and concerned citizens to speak up for our plasma safety in the public interest.

“[Y]ou are being asked to regard your own body as a passive income stream. Our governments are civilized; they won’t permit the commodification or privatization of the body unless you agree, and you can make a noise about this” reported Heather Mallick in the Toronto Star.

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