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Unions protest private plasma centre in Moncton


On Tuesday, more than 100 people protested outside of a private blood plasma clinic opening in Moncton. PHOTO: LAURA BOOTH/TIMES & TRANSCRIPT

More than 100 protestors representing a number of labour organizations gathered Tuesday to oppose a private blood plasma clinic expected to officially open in Moncton within a month.

The entrance to the Canadian Plasma Resources centre on Elmwood Drive was surrounded by protest-ors for more than an hour, as they expressed their opposition to the new clinic that will pay donors $25 or more for the yellow-coloured material in their blood.

“This blood plasma will be sold to the highest bidder so at the end of the day, Canadians might not be getting this plasma,” said Patrick Colford, president of the New Brunswick Federation of Labour which oversees all organized unions in the province.

He added the location of the clinic is also concerning as it may be taking advantage of those in need of money.

“This area is seen as a lower income area, we have the university that’s around the street – what we’re worried about is people who will be making the donations strictly for monetary reasons,” he said.

Michael McCarthy, a tainted blood victim whose efforts for justice in the 1980s and 1990s resulted in $2.4 billion in compensation from Ottawa to tens of thousands of victims who contracted either Hepatitis C or HIV from tainted blood transfusions, f lew in from Toronto to support the protest on Tuesday.

McCarthy pointed to the landmark Krever inquiry that looked into the scandal and recommended that the blood collection system in Canada not allow paid donors.

He said the public system is safer and doesn’t prey on those in lower income brackets.

“If you go down to those [private] plasma centres in the United States, it’s a form of welfare below welfare and we don’t need to have that model up here to impact negatively our public system,” he said.

The private plasma centre in Moncton is currently waiting on final approvals from Health Canada and a German regulatory body which will receive the plasma for processing, before it officially opens, said Barzin Bahardoust, CEO of Canadian Plasma Resources.

Once those hurdles have passed, the plasma will be used to create pharmaceutical products such as immune globulin used in those who have weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients.

Bahardoust said Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec – who run the country’s voluntary blood donation system – will have the option to purchase the products as they do from other private buyers.

McCarthy is calling on the the New Brunswick government to follow in the footsteps of Ontario and Quebec – both provinces who have banned private plasma clinics. Alberta’s government has also introduced legislation to do the same.

“Plasma donation is strictly regulated by Health Canada and the New Brunswick Department of Health sees no reason to prohibit private paid plasma collection within the province,” said Minister of Health, Victor Boudreau, in an emailed statement.

“In fact, Canada currently relies on approximately 70 per cent of its plasma products coming from the private market.”

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