02/18/2016 16:39 EST | Updated 02/18/2017 00:12 EST

Private plasma donor clinic opens in Saskatchewan; health ministers back move

SASKATOON — Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott is fending off calls to close a private, for-profit plasma donor clinic in Saskatchewan by saying  Canada has one of the safest blood systems in the world.

Canadian Plasma Resources in Saskatoon has officially opened its door and plans to pay people with $25 gift cards for making donations.

Philpott said in question period that the government has examined the issue in great detail and is using science to make sure there are no compromises to the blood system.

Canadian Plasma Resources will be inspected by Health Canada and has to comply with national regulations, including donor screening and testing.

Saskatchewan Health Minister Dustin Duncan, who was at the clinic's opening today, says 80 per cent of plasma used in Canada currently comes from paid donors in the United States and Europe.

The federal NDP, the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour have called for a ban on such clinics.

The Canadian Press