An ArmchairMayor.ca editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
SHOULD WE be paid for giving our blood?
The very thought of it has long been offensive to our Canadian values. Free blood is regarded as a basic human right, and the people who provide that blood shouldn’t make money off it — or so the argument goes.
And that’s basically the premise behind the introduction of a new bill — the Voluntary Blood Donations Act.
Voluntary blood donation is, says Health Minister Adrian Dix, integral to our healthcare system. The legislation aims at preventing the establishment of plasma collection clinics that would pay donors.
There’s already a small industry in Canada in which private for-profit organizations pay people for plasma and sell it on the global market. The legislation will ensure blood and plasma collected in B.C. stay as part of the national supply system run by Canadian Blood Services, says Dix.
Not everybody agrees on the issue of paying for blood and plasma, though. The bill introduced by Dix comes after several years of lobbying by the B.C. Health Coalition, which has pointed out that the 1993 inquiry into the tainted blood scandal recommended against paying for or selling blood products.
Former Health Minister Terry Lake had another view. Lake, when he was the minister, said most of the blood plasma used in Canada comes from U.S. donors who are paid.
The reason is that not enough blood is collected in Canada to meet our own needs. Lake, therefore, was of the opinion that practicality requires another approach.
Personally, I like a system that keeps the blood supply out of free-market economics, but if B.C. wants to protect the not-for-profit model, it has to invest in it.
The argument that profit-oriented clinics would tempt donors away from the voluntary system might have some merit but a greater investment will be needed in the current model to achieve self-sufficiency.
Either we pay for blood collected elsewhere, or we pay more to encourage people to donate here at home.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.
Mel Rothenburger’s Armchair Mayor editorials appear Mondays through Thursdays on CFJC- TV. His Armchair Mayor column is published Saturdays on ArmchairMayor.ca and CFJC Today. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.