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Ontario moves to ban paid blood and plasma donations

A man donates blood in Montreal on Nov. 29, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

TORONTO – Ontario is taking steps to make it illegal to pay for blood or plasma donations, saying the move would help protect the integrity of the public blood donor system.

The province says it will introduce legislation to ban payments, boost enforcement in case of violations and broaden the requirements for licensing blood collection facilities.

It also proposes to amend two regulations so the payment ban takes effect immediately.

The provincial government has raised concerns about three paid-donor blood clinics being set up in Ontario.

Canadian Plasma Resources lists two clinics in Toronto and one in Hamilton. It says paid donations help meet the demand for plasma to be manufactured into pharmaceutical products.

There is currently no law in Ontario preventing clinics or labs from paying blood or plasma donors, but at least one other province — Quebec — has outlawed the practice.

The federal government said last year the matter falls under provincial and territorial jurisdiction.

Ontario’s ministry of health says the proposed legislation is consistent with the final report into the tainted-blood scandal, which recommended donors should not be paid, except in rare circumstances.

The federal government launched a public inquiry in 1993 after thousands of people were infected with HIV and hepatitis C through tainted blood transfusions in the 1980s.

Justice Horace Krever spent four years in his investigation and made 50 recommendations when he issued his report in 1997. Among them was tighter rules for blood services and no-fault compensation for the victims.

“Since the Krever inquiry, we have built a public blood system in Canada that is safe, effective and integrated,” Dr. Graham Sher, CEO of Canadian Blood Services, said in a release.

“There is no meaningful rationale for altering Canadian Blood Services’ current, sustainable system of managing the blood and blood products supply for Ontarians.”