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e-2757 (Health)

E-petition
Initiated by Davy Sabourin from Gatineau, Quebec

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Government of Canada

Whereas:
  • Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec will not accept blood and plasma donations from gay men, men who have sex with men, and trans women if they have had a male sexual partner within three months;
  • Canada’s blood supply is suffering from shortages during the COVID-19 crisis and there is an urgency of obtaining plasma donations for research into the prevention and treatment of COVID-19;
  • Behaviour-based screening provides better security for the blood supply than identity-based rules, and there is no science behind the current 3-month deferral;
  • In Canada, every blood donation is tested for several infectious diseases, including HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C; and
  • More than 17 nations have no deferral period, including Italy, Spain and Argentina.
We, the undersigned, concerned citizens, call upon the Government of Canada to
1. Act now to immediately eliminate the 3-month deferral for blood and plasma donations from men who have sex with men, gay men, and trans women, and
2. Support member of Parliament Randall Garrison’s motion, M-41, tabled in the House of Commons on June 8, 2020.

Response by the Minister of Health

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Darren Fisher

The Government of Canada is committed to protecting the safety and security of Canada’s blood supply. The Government is also committed to supporting blood donation practises in Canada that are non-discriminatory and scientifically supported.

Blood donation practises are determined by Canada’s blood operators—Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec. Changes to donation practises can only be implementedby the blood operators. However, they must be based on current scientific evidence and approved by Health Canada. To date, the Department has not yet received a submission from the blood operators to eliminate the deferral period in question.

Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec were created as arm’s length organizations responsible for operating Canada and Québec’s blood systems. Under Canada’s Blood Regulations, they are required to make submissions to Health Canada for any changes to their practices, such as changes to donor deferrals. These submissions must include scientific data that support the safety of the proposed changes. Health Canada evaluates and approves any changes before they can be implemented but has no authority to mandate that a donor screening criterion be changed, except in extraordinary situations when safety issues arise.

 

In Canada, every blood donation is tested for several infectious diseases, including HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Despite advances in testing methods, there remains a period when there is a risk that infected units of blood may not be identified by testing. As a result, donor screening and deferral remain relevant safety measures because they minimize the potential of infected units of blood entering the system.

Funding research is the federal lever available to support further changes to blood donation practises. Under Health Canada’s MSM Blood and Plasma Research Program—ongoing since 2016—Canadian Blood Services is overseeing 19 funded research projects selected through peer review processes that could inform future changes to blood and plasma donation eligibility and screening. This includes assessing whether changing to a gender-neutral, behaviour-based donor criterion would be acceptable. Research is ongoing and some project results are expected in 2021.

Since 2015, Health Canada has approved two submissions from both Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec to change the deferral period for MSM. On June 16, 2016, Health Canada approved submissions to change the blood donor deferral period for MSM from five years to one year and on April 30, 2019, Health Canada approved submissions to further reduce the MSM deferral period to three months.

At this time, we have not received a request from Canadian Blood Services and Héma Quebec. However, we are funding 15 research projects to help find evidence needed to eliminate it. We encourage Canadian Blood Services and Héma Quebec to move towards a behaviour-based model and abandon this discriminatory practice.

Open for signature
July 29, 2020, at 9:01 a.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
October 27, 2020, at 9:01 a.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Randall Garrison (Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke)
December 7, 2020 (Petition No. 432-00372)
Government response tabled
January 25, 2021
Photo - Randall Garrison
Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke
New Democratic Party Caucus
British Columbia
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