UNA opposes overturning ban on private paid blood clinics

United Nurses of Alberta is concerned that a bill being debated in the Legislature could undermine access to safe and secure blood donations in Alberta.

Bill 204, the Voluntary Blood Donation Repeal Act, would repeal the 2017 ban on private clinics that pay donors for their blood donations from setting up in the province. The private members bill was introduced by Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo MLA Tany Yao.

“We need a secure supply of blood products in Canada, and a strong, voluntary, national supply system is the best way to achieve it,” said UNA President Heather Smith. “Donating blood should not be viewed as a business venture.”

Alberta banned the private paid blood donation clinics in 2017, as have the provinces of British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec.

The ban followed recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry on the Blood System in Canada to enshrine 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.

The inquiry, headed by Mr. Justice Horace Krever, was created in 1997 to investigate allegations that the system of government, private, and non-governmental organizations responsible for supplying blood and blood products to the health care system had allowed contaminated blood to be used.

The Krever inquiry recommended the creation of Canadian Blood Services, which operates at arm's length from the federal government. UNA represents Registered Nurses employed by CBS in Alberta.

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

The World Health Organization recommends blood donations be collected only from unpaid donors.