Canadian Hemophilia Society

Canadian Hemophilia Society

June 30, 2005 09:47 ET

Canadian Hemophilia Society to Attend Sentencing of Canadian Red Cross Re: Tainted Blood Charges

MONTREAL, QUEBEC--(CCNMatthews - June 30, 2005) - Canadian Hemophilia Society (CHS) spokesperson John Plater will be present this morning at the John Sopinka Court House in Hamilton, Ontario at 11 o'clock am to observe a sentencing hearing for the Canadian Red Cross. The Canadian Red Cross pleaded guilty to an indictable offence under the federal Food and Drugs Act on May 30th.

On November 20, 2002, following a 5 year RCMP investigation, 6 charges were laid against the Canadian Red Cross related to their management of the Canadian blood supply and the supply of blood and blood products to Canadians during the 1980's. During this period the blood supply in Canada became infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and the hepatitis C virus (HCV), in turn infecting thousands of Canadians with HIV and/or HCV. Charges were laid on the basis that the Red Cross knew enough during this period to warn blood recipients of the dangers and screen potential donors to reduce risks to the system. Following discussions with the Crown Attorneys prosecuting the case the Red Cross entered a guilty to a charge of "... distribut(ing) adulterated blood for transfusion to persons who were thereby rendered gravely or even terminally ill..." agreeing to pay a fine of $5,000 and direct $1.5 million dollars to a scholarship program for the families of victims and research into medical error.

"The wheels of justice have turned slowly but they have begun to turn," said Plater, before heading into the Court House in Hamilton. Plater also noted that victim impact statements will be accepted into evidence during the hearing. "The penalties expected are largely symbolic but the opportunity for victims to explain how this scandal has affected them personally is important."

"I expect to hear the stories of pain, suffering and financial hardship we often hear from our members and others infected with tainted blood," said Plater. "I hope the politicians in Ottawa are listening because we still haven't seen everyone harmed by tainted blood properly compensated for what happened." Although compensation plans have been developed for people infected with HIV through blood and people infected with Hepatitis C between 1986 and 1990, Hepatitis C victims infected outside the 86-90 window have received no assistance from the federal government. On November 22, 2004 federal Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh announced the government would begin discussions aimed at seeing all tainted blood victims compensated. On April 20, 2005 the House of Commons voted unanimously to compensate all victims immediately. Negotiations between lawyers for victims and the government have started but no compensation plan has been announced and no time frame for resolution of the outstanding claims has been established. "Today we will hear stories of how Hepatitis C and HIV affect real people, we will hear that more time usually means more anguish and often death," said Plater.

Mr. Plater will be available at the Hamilton Court to respond to media inquires following the proceeding.

Contact Information

  • CHS
    John Plater
    Chair, HCV/HIV Task Force
    (416)-525-4247 Cell
    (519) 599-3093 Office
    David Page
    Director of Programs and Communications