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Report of the committee

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology has the honour to present its

THIRTY-THIRD REPORT

Your committee, to which was referred Bill S-252, Voluntary Blood Donations Act (An Act to amend the Blood Regulations), has, in obedience to the order of reference of October 25, 2018, examined the said bill and now reports as follows.

Between 5 December 2018 and 21 March 2019, your committee studied this bill. It heard from 16 witnesses over the course of seven meetings. Bill S-252 contains a single clause which would prohibit blood collectors from providing payment to blood donors.

In addition to the sponsor of the bill, the Honourable Senator Pamela Wallin, your committee heard from individual and allied patient groups, experts in blood safety and supply, health care professional organizations, employee representative organizations, Canadian for-profit plasma collection companies and Canada’s two blood agencies, Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec.

Members applaud Senator Wallin for the effort and energy that has been put into developing this bill and agree that the sustainability of Canada’s blood supply must be protected. They empathize with the view that all blood donations, whether they be for whole blood or blood constituents, should be made voluntarily and without compensation.

However, your committee recommends that this bill not proceed further in the Senate for the reasons that follow.

Members heard contradictory testimony on several complex and technical issues. Such issues include the safety of donations; the security of the plasma supply; the ethics of compensation to donors; the self-sufficiency of plasma supply in other countries and whether that has been achieved solely with voluntary donations; and whether “voluntary” donations in other countries would be considered as being remunerated under the current wording of the bill, etc.

Members are also concerned about whether the bill should include definitions of some terms and whether the issue of compensation for plasma donation falls within federal jurisdiction. As well, some members question why the bill would exempt any organization from the prohibition on remuneration for plasma donation.

Your committee appreciates the sincerity with which witnesses presented their views on this bill and it has struggled with the complexity of the issues involved. Members of your committee concur that Bill S-252, An Act to amend the Blood Regulations, proposes a regulatory change that is overly simple for a complex issue and has the potential of resulting in unintended consequences.

Respectfully submitted,

CHANTAL PETITCLERC

Chair