3 Things You Can Do to Support Secure, Safe, Voluntary Plasma Collection
We Toured the Province – Now What?
Thank you to everyone that supported our September 12 – 16 provincial tour! We successfully highlighted issues around for-profit paid plasma companies, and continued our campaign to pressure the provincial and federal governments to follow Ontario and Quebec’s good example and pass a law banning paid plasma. Scroll to the bottom of this post for a media round-up of coverage of our tour and the issues.
BloodWatch.org Executive Director Kat Lanteigne speaking to the crowd in Edmonton. Photo by Chris Gallaway.
At the centre of this tour was the story of the patients and advocates of BloodWatch.org . Kat Lanteigne was able to speak to the history of the tainted blood inquiry, and the recommendations from the resulting inquiry that include ending the practice of paid donors to secure our supply and prevent a future tragedy. Through the efforts of BloodWatch and their allies they were able to stop the spread of paid donor companies in Ontario in 2014. They are now actively campaigning across the country to see our system protected.
We were also supported with the valuable perspective of some of the Canadian Blood Services (CBS) staff represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) who also fully support voluntary collection and a ban on paid plasma. Concerns have been voiced because of the history at CBS of closing clinics while reducing hours for staff. We have been happy to hear CBS plans to greatly increase their voluntary collection, and hope to see improvements in treatment of the staff who ultimately make CBS work. Our blood supply deserves better than a precarious workforce. Thanks to Kim Storebo, Brenda Reid and CUPE Alberta President Marle Roberts for their presentations and support.
CBS staff and CUPE member
Kim Storebo speaks in Lethbridge.
Invites went out to provincial and federal politicians of all stripes. We were happy to hear from NDP MLAs Maria Fitzpatrick in Lethbridge, Dr. Bob Turner in Edmonton who was joined by Jon Carson and Heather Sweet, and Kim Schreiner in Red Deer. Other MLAs unfortunately weren’t able to attend. Notably, Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA and Wildrose Health Critic Drew Barnes declined the chance to discuss his parties position in favour of paid plasma at our meeting in Medicine Hat. While the law to ban paid plasma received all party support in Ontario, as of this writing we have not been provided with a position from the other opposition parties in Alberta. (Note – we will happily update this post with the positions of any other party once we hear of them.)
While our Members of Parliament were unable to attend we did have a representative from NDP MP Linda Duncan’s office attend our Edmonton meeting to discuss the Federal NDP position and work being done to ban paid plasma by their Health Critic Don Davies.
So what now? We know from their presentations at our meetings and comments in the media that our provincial government supports voluntary plasma collection and wants to protect the integrity of our blood and plasma system.
At the same time for-profit plasma broker Canadian Plasma Resources (CPR) is still pushing to expand beyond their single site in Saskatoon. We learned through the tour that when they set up in Ontario, they did not seek permission from the provincial government, and were able to operate there with Health Canada’s approval until months later when the Voluntary Blood Donations Act was passed.
This is why we are continuing our campaign. We need a similar law passed in Alberta to guarantee brokers like CPR can not set up shop here. We believe our government can be persuaded to do the right thing but we need your help. If we are successful here, it will support the work being done by our many allies in other provinces who are tackling the same issue, and ultimately create pressure on the Federal Government who we want to see take action to secure our voluntary system across the country.
3 Easy Ways You Can Help
- Support our Alberta petition campaign. The successful online SumOfUs petition promoted by BloodWatch was Canada wide. In Alberta our legislature still requires old fashioned written petitions for submission. We want to show support for the issue when the Legislature re-opens in November. Please print out our petition, sign it, get your friends to sign it, and send it to us. Remember that postal codes are required to verify addresses, and that the petition is open to voters of Alberta.
- Send a letter to your MLA and to Alberta Health Minister Sarah Hoffman. BloodWatch has drafted a sample letter for you to use to write your own. You can look up your MLA by postal code here, and then their contact information. You should also copy the Health Minister – email@example.com and Friends of Medicare too, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Send a letter to your MP and Federal Health Minister Dr. Jane Philpott. Another sample letter from BloodWatch has been drafted to send to Minister Philpott at email@example.com copy your MP after you look them up online, and firstname.lastname@example.org too.
We will keep you up to date as we learn more on this issue. Thank you again for your support of our work! Our tour was made possible in part through financial support of CUPE Alberta and the Health Sciences Association of Alberta – many thanks to them!
No Paid Plasma Links and Media Round-Up
BloodWatch.org – Thorough information source and political action centre for all things blood and plasma.
Friends of Medicare March 31, 2016 – Alberta Can Show Leadership in Banning Pay-For-Plasma
Globe & Mail – April 27, 2016 – Editorial: Paying for blood has too high a cost
Friends of Medicare April 28, 2016 – Alberta Can and Should Ban Pay-For Plasma
Friends of Medicare June 28, 2016 – Momentum for #nopaidplasma
Friends of Medicare – September 9, 2016 - Advocates Tour Alberta to Stop Plasma Privatization
CJOC Radio - September 12, 2016 - Friends of Medicare Concerned About For-Profit Blood Donations
Medicine Hat News – September 14, 2016 – Canadians will lose out big time with for-profit plasma, Hatters told
Medicine Hat News – September 14, 2016 – Guest Column: Blood supplies across Canada must be safeguarded
Friends of Medicare – September 16, 2016 - 15,000 Petition Signatures Presented to Minister Hoffman to Ban Sale of Plasma in Alberta
Alberta Primetime - September 14, 2016 – Debating Paid Plasma Clinics (Video)
Lethbridge Herald – September 17, 2016 – Protection called for blood system
Prairie Post – September 23, 2016 – Friends of Medicare urge provincial government to legislate against private donor-paid plasma collection