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UCP bill will allow private sale of blood

Tany Yao, UCP MLA for Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo, has brought forward Bill 204 that will repeal Alberta’s ban on the private purchase of human blood.

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The UCP is about to repeal a law in Alberta that bans the private sale of blood.

Tany Yao, UCP MLA for Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo, has brought forward Bill 204 that will repeal Alberta’s ban on the private purchase of human blood.

In 2017, the NDP passed the Voluntary Blood Donations Act, which banned everyone except for the Canadian Blood Services from paying for plasma and other blood products.

“A secure supply of plasma is a cornerstone of a modern twenty-first century health care system. The repeal of the Voluntary Blood Donations Act will help patients by making our plasma supply less dependent on international supply which can be unreliable,” Yao said.

Bill advocate Whitney Goulstone, Executive Director Canadian Immunodeficiencies Patient Organization (CIPO), noted last summer Canada experienced its first IG (Immune Globulin) shortage.

Kate van der Meer, said the bill, if it becomes law, will make her life easier.

“I was originally scheduled to switch to SCIG (Subcutaneous Immune Globulin) in May 2019. Due to the shortage, this did not happen. Instead, I had to continue traveling to the hospital every 3 weeks, and struggle to care for my 3 young children while recovering from each intravenous infusion. This continued until the end of September 2019 when the shortage eased and Canadian Blood Services began allowing patients to switch to SCIG again,” she said, in a statement in the government press release.

“Patients have suffered because of our apathy, and because of the Voluntary Blood Donations Act.”

Canada as a whole only supplies 13.5 per cent of the plasma needed for the production of the IG and other plasma therapies used for the treatment of Canadian patients.

The NDP is on the record as opposing the new bill.

“If passed, this bill will divert donations away from Canadian Blood Services to private buyers, who can then sell them to the highest bidder on world markets,” said NDP Health Critic David Shepherd.

“This is very bad for Albertans. It flies directly in the face of the Krever Inquiry.”

 The Krever Inquiry investigated Canada’s tainted blood scandal, in which tens of thousands of people were infected with hepatitis C or HIV through tainted blood products.

The inquiry’s report led to the creation of a single national agency, Canadian Blood Services. 

Ontario, Quebec and B.C. also have legislated bans on the purchase of human blood. Manitoba has a single paid-donation centre for rare blood types that predates the Krever Inquiry.

Saskatchewan and New Brunswick have private blood purchasing locations. 

Shepherd said: “This isn’t a partisan issue – our single public voluntary system has served Albertans well for decades, and through this global pandemic.  Allowing private buyers to divert donations away from Canadian Blood Services will cause terrible harm to Canada’s supply. Tany Yao’s bill is a terrible mistake, and I hope members of the UCP caucus will join us in defeating it.”

Peter Martin Jaworski, Ph.D., an Associate Teaching Professor in Strategy, Ethics, Economics and Public Policy at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business has made the case for allowing blood products to be sold.

“In order to meet the demands of patients, every country has come to rely increasingly on plasma from the United States, one of the few countries that permits some form of payment for plasma. The United
States is responsible for 70% of the global supply of plasma. Along with the other countries that permit a form of payment for plasma donations (including Germany, Austria, Hungary, and Czechia), they
together account for nearly 90% of the total supply,” he wrote in a paper called Bloody Well Pay Them.

“This situation is unsustainable, a risk to security, and, most importantly, a threat to the millions of patients who currently depend on plasma therapies, those who will in future, and those who would benefit from them but do not have access.

“In order to ensure a safe, secure, and sufficient supply of plasma therapies, the UK, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia should withdraw prohibitions on voluntary remunerated plasma collections, and thereby ensure domestic security of supply for our patients, and begin to contribute to the global supply of plasma.”

David Clement, Toronto-based North American Affairs Manager for the Consumer Choice Center (CCC), said “We applaud the Government of Alberta and MLA Tany Yao for putting this forward. A ban on paid blood plasma was ridiculous to begin with, especially considering that 70 per cent of Canada’s blood plasma supply comes from the USA, where they compensate donors.

“Blood plasma is used for a variety of medical treatments, and plays and important role in the fight against Covid-19. Our hope is that by allowing for compensation, more Albertans will donate blood plasma and help the province overcome the persistent shortages that occur. Czechia (previously the Czech Republic) legalized paying for blood plasma, and saw a 7 fold increase in donations. If that were to happen in Alberta it would be cause for celebration, not condemnation.” said Clement.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard and the Vice-President: News Division of Western Standard New Media Corp. He has served as the City Editor of the Calgary Sun and has covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years. dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

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CRA wants more tax filers to use mail

The government’s own research shows millions of paper filers resist change.

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The taxman is angry that too many Canadians are still filing by mail, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

The government’s own research shows millions of paper filers resist change.

“Those who submit their taxes by mail most often say they use paper rather than filing electronically because it is simply how they prefer to do it, e.g. they do it out of habit, because ‘it’s what they are comfortable with,’ they like it, etcetera,” said a Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) report.

“Just 13% cite security issues.”

Data show of 30.5 million tax returns filed this year a total 2.7 million or 9% were filed on paper. Millions of taxpayers, a total 4,234,772 including Internet filers, demanded refunds be paid by mailed cheque instead of direct deposit.

The CRA complained it would be “more timely and efficient” if all taxpayers used the Internet. The Agency spends $6.9 million annually mailing T1 general tax forms alone.

“There is still a sizable proportion of taxpayers who are conducting their business with the Canada Revenue Agency through paper rather than taking advantage of digital services which are much more timely and efficient,” said the report.

Research showed typical paper filers were working age men under 55 who completed their own return without a tax preparer, had a university degree, earned more than $80,000 a year and were more likely than other Canadians to prefer in-person teller service rather than online banking.

“The most important factor influencing why respondents file by paper instead of online is disinterest,” wrote researchers, who added: “Apathy is a barrier. Fifty percent of likely switchers say they are simply not interested in switching. Therefore the agency will have to demonstrate the value of switching.”

Findings were based on questionnaires with 2,000 taxpayers who filed returns by mail. The Agency paid Earnscliffe Strategy Group $130,061 for the survey.

The research follows a failed 2012 campaign to have all Canadians use direct deposit for payment of tax refunds and benefit cheques. The attempt by the Receiver General of Canada, the federal office responsible for processing payments, was intended to save costs. Paper cheques cost 82¢ apiece to process compared to 13¢ for electronic transfers, by official estimate.

An estimated 13% of taxpayers refused to surrender bank account information to the Receiver General. “Cheque recipients have become harder to engage,” said a 2020 Department of Public Works survey.

“A few have a general distrust of the Government of Canada’s ability to protect data,” wrote researchers. A total 23 percent of Atlantic residents said they wouldn’t rely on the government to protect their privacy, followed by 22% in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, 21% in Ontario, 19% in Alberta, 18% in BC and 12% in Québec.

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WATCH: Alberta Oil drives Guilbeault to meeting with Nixon

Federal Environment Minister Stephen Guilbeault’s tour of Alberta has already kicked off with a whiff of hypocrisy.

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Attended by a sizable entourage, Guilbeault exited his black gasoline-powered SUV and hustled into the McDougall Centre in Calgary for a meeting with Alberta Environment Minister Jason Nixon.  

Guilbeault has dedicated most of his career to telling Canadians they need to transition from petrochemically fueled transportation. During this meeting though, Guilbeault chose not to find an utilize an electric-powered SUV in order to demonstrate his environmental virtue. With the resources of the entire federal government behind him, one would have thought that Guilbeault could have arranged appropriate transportation for his cross-Canada tour.  

It’s almost as if electric vehicles are still not ready for mainstream use yet. 

At least Guilbeault contributed to the Western economy with his conspicuous consumption of local petrochemical products.  

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Officials urge booster injections to tackle lingering Delta variant amid Omicron craze

The WHO classified Omicron as a “variant of concern,” however, the South African doctor who discovered Omicron in her patient says she is “stunned” by the response.

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The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is now strongly urging COVID-19 booster injections for those over the age of 50.

In addition, the committee is now recommending boosters of an authorized mRNA vaccine to those 18-49 years of age at least six months after completion of a “primary COVID-19 vaccine series with consideration of jurisdictional and individual risks.”

The announcement comes amid global discussion of the Omicron variant. The federal government requested on Tuesday that NACI swiftly review its booster guidance in response to Omicron.

The NACI’s new booster recommendation, however, focuses on the lingering Delta variant while more details are gathered on Omicron.

On Nov. 26, 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified Omicron as a “variant of concern,” although the South African doctor who discovered Omicron in her patient says she is “stunned” by the response.

“As chair of the South African Medical Association and a GP of 33 years standing, I have seen a lot over my medical career,” writes Dr. Angelique Coetzee, in an op-ed for the Daily Mail.

“But nothing has prepared me for the extraordinary global reaction that met my announcement this week that I had seen a young man in my surgery who had a case of COVID that turned out to be the Omicron variant.”

The young man was unaware he had contracted the virus.

Coetzee says she has seen nothing about the variant that warrants panic.

“No one here in South Africa is known to have been hospitalized with the Omicron variant, nor is anyone here believed to have fallen seriously ill with it,” writes Coetzee.

She also says the variant has been circulating South Africa for “some time.”

Viruses — such as COVID-19 — have their own DNA or RNA, therefore allowing them to mutate into new forms.

“This virus is going exactly how you’d expect,” Dr. Steven Pelech, chair of the Scientific and Medical Advisory Committee at the Canadian Covid Care Alliance, told the Western Standard.

“Strains are going to predominate which are more infectious and mild. That’s how it displaces other variants, it doesn’t kill the host. The host often doesn’t even know they are infected.”

Pelech — who is far from alone in his analysis — suggests the “variants of concern,” including Delta, are merely steps towards COVID-19 evolving into a common coronavirus. One that is highly infectious and exceedingly mild.

The Canadian government implemented additional travel restrictions in response to Omicron on November 30 — built upon previous measures.

“We know that these concerning mutations can arise and, where vaccinations are low in parts of the world, they can spread rapidly,” said BC Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on Tuesday.

BC officials say the province will have more information on Omicron and its implications — such as vaccine efficacy — in the coming weeks.

“Isn’t this the same playbook we heard a year ago with the Delta variant?” said Pelech.

Reid Small is a BC-based reporter for the Western Standard
rsmall@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/reidsmall

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