Alberta’s decision to ban private blood plasma clinics from operating in the province has gift-wrapped an amazing opportunity for the union movement to shine in a totally altruistic manner.
Anti-private and unionized anything is part of the NDP’s health care DNA, so it’s not surprising Alberta has introduced the Voluntary Blood Donations Act to ban private blood plasma clinics. In BC, a NDP MLA has introduced a similar private member’s bill. Ontario and Quebec have already banned the practice.
Unions and groups they support, such as Friends of Medicare, have vigorously lobbied against the private clinics. They are also among the strongest supporters of the Medicare monopoly and the NDP’s anti-private sector stance.
Alberta, however, will still buy 60% of the supply needed by Albertans, mostly from private companies in the USA that pay blood donors. Here’s the rub: Alberta has no regulatory oversight as to the American practices, product safety and quality control — which it would if the private clinics operated in the province.
Last year Alberta Health budgeted $200 million to buy blood and blood products.Yet, with a straight face, Health Minister Sarah Hoffman claims, “Some things are just too important to be left to the market.”
Canada currently only has 25% of the volunteer blood donors it requires to be self-sufficient: another 600,000 are needed Using conventional, table-napkin arithmetic of 10%, that’s 60,000 Albertans.
But, it shouldn’t be that difficult.
The Alberta Federation of Labour has over 300,000 members, including United Nurses of Alberta [30,000+] and Health Sciences Association of Alberta [24,000]. Across Canada there are more than four million union members — almost 700% more than the 600,000 donors required. [Is it naive to presume all NDP MPs and MLAs across Canada are already blood donors?]
If the union movement was to make a long-term commitment — to 2050 — to have its members volunteer to fulfill all Canada’s blood supply needs, it not only would be a spectacular public relations coup of the century, but it would also provide immeasurable benefits for the health care of Canadians.
On the other, if it was just a one-time, one-off event, it would be rightly be criticized for being what it was — a cheesy PR stunt.