NEWS

CUPE demands blood supply inquiry

01/16/2012 05:52 EST | Updated 03/17/2012 05:12 EDT

The Canadian Union of Public Employees is calling for an official inquiry into the safety of New Brunswick's blood supply.

The union’s demand comes after Friday’s announcement from the provincial government that it will work with Canadian Blood Services even after it moves the blood processing facility from Saint John to Dartmouth.

CUPE represents 90 Canadian Blood Services employees in New Brunswick.

Mike Davidson, the union’s national representative, said this is a safety issue more than a concern for jobs that will be lost. He said the union plans to fight the decision.

“This wouldn't be the first decision of any government that got reversed,” Davidson said.

Davidson is calling for an official inquiry into the safety of the blood supply despite the province's assurances that sticking with CBS is not going to jeopardize safety.

The union leader also said he wants government leaders to attend a symposium on blood services that is still scheduled to take place next week.

"We want them to come and attend the event Jan. 24, so they can get a full and complete picture of why this is being called for,” Davidson said.

Health Minister Madeleine Dubé said on Friday the provincial government thoroughly researched its options and in the end decided it was too expensive to set up a stand-alone blood processing system.

Dubé said the provincial government is in a precarious financial position and cannot afford to move forward with its own blood system.

The Department of Health commissioned two reports — KPMG and Growth Strategies — to explore the province’s options.

The reviews came after Canadian Blood Services announced plans in 2009 to close the blood processing and delivery clinic in Saint John and consolidate operations in Dartmouth by 2012.

Review group to be established

The province’s health minister announced on Friday that a review group would be established with representatives from the provincial government, Canadian Blood Services and the New Brunswick Medical Society to monitor the blood situation in New Brunswick.

“The physicians of New Brunswick are prepared to move forward, in collaboration with all partners to develop a transparent and accountable monitoring process that will reassure patients and the medical community,” said Dr. Allison Kennedy, the president of the New Brunswick Medical Society, in a statement.

“The New Brunswick Medical Society is asking government to expedite the establishment of this process.”

Saint John’s mayor is also frustrated about the timing of the provincial government’s decision.

Mayor Ivan Court said he is upset the provincial government did not wait until after the blood symposium before making its decision.

"I mean it’s a very short period of time...about a 10-day period,” Court said.

Canadian Blood Services has agreed to attend the symposium.

Court said he has been contacted by the premier's office to ask about the agenda of the symposium.

But there's no word yet on whether Premier David Alward will attend.

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