April 28, 2022
Ending Discriminatory Blood Ban Good News for Canada’s Public Blood Supply
This morning, Health Canada approved Canadian Blood Services’ request to end the 3-month deferral period for men who have sex with men, effectively lifting the ban on their ability to donate blood and plasma.
“Blood donation policies should be based on what is scientifically proven to be high risk, not on broad and outdated stereotypes, and these policies should be consistently applied to all donors,” said Chris Gallaway, executive director of Friends of Medicare. “There was no science to defend the previous 3-month deferral, it’s good news that Health Canada has officially approved lifting it.”
The need for blood and plasma donations remains urgent. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadian Blood Services has regularly called out for blood donors to help ensure blood and blood products remain available for patients in need. This availability is crucial for patients and to our health care system.
“Canadians have already waited too long for this discriminatory blood donation ban to be removed,” said Gallaway. “A growing group of potential blood donors will now have the ability to donate, which is good news for our voluntary public blood supply, for patients and our health care system.”
There remains more work needed to strengthen Canada’s voluntary public blood donation system. Since 2019, the Canadian Blood Services has been implementing a strategy to grow the number of volunteer blood plasma donors in Canada. Rather than support the public agency, the UCP government passed MLA Tany Yao’s private member’s bill to allow pay-for-plasma operators which are now open in Alberta. Rather than to support Canadian Blood Services' ongoing work to expand our public plasma system, our provincial government opted instead to allow unnecessary private, for-profit competition to voluntary donations, threatening our blood and plasma supply in the midst of a global pandemic.
“Albertans are now getting bombarded with advertisements encouraging them to sign up to make money by selling their blood plasma, which the company can then sell into the U.S. markets,” said Gallaway. “Our provincial and federal governments need to act to protect our public, voluntary blood donation system by passing legislation to ban pay-for-plasma clinics.”
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