OTTAWA — iPolitics
Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016
Critics take aim at Philpott as private blood clinics look to expand
Critics of for-profit blood and plasma donor clinics tried to apply pressure to Health Minister Jane Philpott Tuesday by hitting against key Liberal talking points, saying her office has been ignoring evidence.
That attack comes as a private clinic looks to open up in New Brunswick, after both Philpott and the province’s health minister, Victor Boudreau, shot down calls to ban paid plasma clinics.
Kat Lanteigne, head of the advocacy group Bloodwatch, which represents Canadian tainted blood survivors, said she hasn’t been able to meet with Philpott since she took over the portfolio.
“Since they’ve been in office they’ve refused to meet,” Lanteigne said at a press conference at the National Press Theatre. “I keep coming back – and I won’t bring the tainted blood survivors back anymore because we’ve been here multiple times and they get ignored. I refuse to let them be treated that way.”
Philpott told reporters Tuesday that she hasn’t met with Bloodwatch herself, but her staff has “made it clear” to them that the government will “continue to make sure facilities that collect plasma are safe.”
Ontario and Quebec have banned for-profit blood and plasma clinics, but a paid clinic opened up in Saskatchewan earlier this year and is looking to expand into other provinces, including B.C.
Lanteigne said she worries that private donor clinics create a “parallel” system that competes against Canadian Blood Services and ships blood products out of the country.
At the same press conference, NDP health critic Don Davies said Philpott isn’t listening to Justice Krever’s report – which warned against private clinics because of Canada’s tainted blood crisis in the 1970s and 80s.
“There’s no report that the federal government spent $17 million on that tells them they should go to for-profit paid blood donor systems,” he said.
Philpott said it’s ultimately not up to her to decide on whether provinces can allow private clinics to open up.
“It’s up to the provinces to decide if they’re comfortable with remuneration or some sort of expression of thanks to people who have donated and if they want to do that, that’s within provincial and territorial jurisdiction,” she told reporters Tuesday.
“We need many more people to donate blood and plasma, whether or not people get compensation for donating plasma. There’s extensive international evidence to say it doesn’t have any impact on the safety of the products.”