Question Period: Private Blood Plasma Business – June 30, 2016
Here’s the video and transcript in the language it was originally spoken.
Mr. Coon: The Minister of Health has indicated publicly that he supports the establishment of a private blood business in Moncton. In Ontario, before they were banned, private blood clinics were set up beside payday loan shops and methadone clinics to prey on the most vulnerable. They paid $25 per bag of blood, turning the gift of life into a commodity. To protect vulnerable New Brunswickers and to keep our blood system whole, will the minister prevent a for-profit, paid blood plasma clinic from setting up shop in New Brunswick?
Hon. Mr. Boudreau: We have talked about this extensively in the media over the past couple of weeks. This is an industry that is heavily regulated by Health Canada. It is not something that is regulated by the provinces. Health Canada regulates this industry. Any company that wants to open a paid plasma clinic has to receive a license from Health Canada. The opponents to this like to talk about Ontario because Ontario does not allow it, but they forget to talk about the provinces that do allow it. This is nothing new. This has been around for over 30 years. In Manitoba, there has been a paid plasma clinic for over 30 years. Saskatchewan allows it, and I know for a fact that other provinces are in discussions with the same company that has been looking at possibly establishing something in New Brunswick. No decision has been made. That will be up to the company. However, there is nothing in New Brunswick that prevents it, and it is heavily regulated by Health Canada.
Mr. Coon: If this for-profit blood business is permitted to open in Moncton, it will undermine our public blood system. This week, the CEO of Canadian Blood Services confirmed that it will not purchase blood products from this company. Plasma purchased from the veins of vulnerable New Brunswickers will be exported out of the country if the company can get the export permit—you can believe it. By supporting a business that will be a direct competitor to the publicly funded Canadian Blood Services—it is funded by our province—we will be taking blood product out of the country that could otherwise go to save a Canadian life. Will the minister introduce legislation in New Brunswick, as Ontario did, to help protect Canada’s public blood system from private interests?
Hon. Mr. Boudreau: I am going to give the member opposite the benefit of the doubt that maybe he did not do his research on this file before bringing it up on the floor of the Legislature.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Boudreau: If he had, he would know that Canada cannot fulfill its demand for plasma. Therefore, over 70% of the plasma that is used in Canada is bought from outside of Canada. It is bought from, primarily, American suppliers, and 70% of that comes from paid plasma donations in the U.S. I have a question for the member opposite. If it is okay to pay Americans to collect plasma that is used by Canadians, why is it not acceptable to pay Canadians for plasma used by Canadians?
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Coon: The reality is that, in 2009, the World Health Organization declared that global blood products should be sourced entirely from voluntary donors by 2020, globally. In Canada, the Krever Inquiry recommended that we establish a national voluntary public blood system, which led to the creation of Canadian Blood Services, and thank goodness it did. Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, and Nova Scotia have all rejected private, paid blood collection, yet this government is considering subsidizing the company to set up shop in New Brunswick through a payroll rebate. Can you believe it? Will the minister join his counterparts across the country and across the world in taking a stand against private blood companies that wish to operate in our province?
Hon. Mr. Boudreau: Once again, there is some information that was just shared on the floor of this House that is not accurate. I think it is important to understand that Canadians cannot supply enough plasma for the needs of Canadians.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Boudreau: No, we cannot. We go outside. We go outside now for over 70%.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Fredericton West-Hanwell will come to order.
Hon. Mr. Boudreau: Over 70% comes from outside Canada, primarily from paid plasma donation centres in the U.S. That is a fact. It is also a fact that Health Canada regulates this industry heavily and provides licenses. It is also a fact that, in over 25 years, there has never been an issue in Canada. We talk about the Krever Inquiry, which was probably close to 30 years ago. Technologies have evolved. Methods have evolved. There has not been an incident in Canada in over 25 years. I am not saying that. Health Canada says that on its Web site.