Deal to collect blood plasma violates public trust

JP Hornick is the new president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union.

The decision by Canadian Blood Services (CBS) to sign a 15-year contract with a for-profit multinational to collect plasma is an egregious violation of the organization’s duty to keep the blood system reliable and public. OPSEU/SEFPO leadership says the deal is a betrayal of the public trust and calls on CEO Graham Sher and the board of directors to step down immediately.

The deal with Grifols, an international pharmaceutical firm in Spain, will allow the company to circumvent paid plasma bans in Ontario and British Columbia.

“Canadian Blood Services could strengthen and protect the public plasma supply by building more publicly-operated collection sites,” said OPSEU/SEFPO President JP Hornick. “Instead, they went into business with a for-profit multinational with a deal that puts the public system in jeopardy.”

Sher has refused to disclose the financial terms of the deal or to explain why CBS granted a monopoly on paid plasma to a private, for-profit multinational.

“Ontarians want a transparent and public blood and plasma system,” said OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Laurie Nancekivell. “This backroom commercialisation deal with a


multinational is all about ensuring private profits, not about protecting the plasma supply or the public interest.”

Twenty-five years ago, the 1997 Krever Inquiry report made a series of recommendations to protect the public blood supply. Those recommendations were clear: Canada’s blood system should be self-sufficient, blood should be a public resource, donors should not be paid for blood, and access to blood products should be universal and free.

“With this for-profit contract, the members of the Canadian Blood Service board have effectively torn up the public health recommendations made by Krever Inquiry,” said Hornick. “For the good of Ontarians, and the integrity of our blood and plasma supply, they should tear up this deal or step down.”

OPSEU/SEFPO wrote to Sher in July raising concerns about this threat to the integrity of the public system. Sher did not respond.

OPSEU/SEFPO represents approximately 1,000 CBS staff, including Donor Care Associates, Lab Assistants, Plasma Associates and Drivers in 15 locations throughout the GTA and London, Windsor, Barrie, Peterborough, Hamilton, St. Catharines, Ottawa, Sudbury, and Kingston.