Canadian Hemophilia Society

Canadian Hemophilia Society

May 30, 2005 15:57 ET

Canadian Hemophilia Society Responds to Announcement by the Canadian Red Cross Re: Tainted Blood Charges

MONTREAL, QUEBEC--(CCNMatthews - May 30, 2005) - John Plater, Chair of the Canadian Hemophilia Society's HCV/HIV Task Force was at the John Sopinka Court House in Hamilton, Ontario today to respond to a guilty plea put forward by the Canadian Red Cross Society - distributors of blood and blood products in the 1980's that were tainted with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and the hepatitis C virus (HCV).

"We recognize the complexity faced by The Crown in proceeding against the Red Cross, a large national non-profit organization that today is very different than it was in the 1980's, and is no longer involved with the blood supply in Canada," said Plater as he fielded questions from reporters. "We are grateful for the Red Cross of today accepting responsibility for the actions of the Red Cross of yesterday, and offering an apology to the victims of tainted blood and their families, however we recognize that criminal cases against individuals and private corporations are on-going, and we would be, understandably, very concerned if any plea-bargaining took place in relationship to those cases".

The charges against the Red Cross came in 2002 after thousands of Canadians became infected with HIV and hepatitis C from tainted blood transfusions. The Red Cross pleads guilty to an indictable offence under the Food and Drug Act by distributing tainted blood between 1983 and 1990.

As a result of the guilty plea and public apology, both defense and Crown lawyers have agreed the Red Cross should pay a $5,000 fine, the maximum fine for an offence under this Act, and make a $1.5 million dollar payment to the University of Ottawa, half of which will provide scholarships for tainted blood victims and their families, with the other half going for research and the creation of a national medical error project endowment.

The judge has accepted the lawyer's submission, but won't formally deliver his sentence until June 30th.

In the meantime, the Crown Attorney's office will be setting up a website - http://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/vw/blood - and inviting victims to submit victim impact statements, either through the website or in writing. This must be completed by June 17th, 2005.

"Finally," stated John Plater, "the Red Cross has accepted responsibility for their part in the tainted blood tragedy. It's the least they can do for the sake of victims who have waited two decades for someone to be held accountable."

The Canadian Hemophilia Society will continue to closely follow this and related court proceedings.

Contact Information

  • CHS
    John Plater
    Chair, HCV/HIV Task Force
    (416) 525-4247
    or
    CHS
    David Page
    Director of Programs and Communications
    1-800-668-2686