Giving blood in Canada: A discriminatory policy shielded from judicial review

  • December 05, 2018
  • Jesse Hartery and François Rivard

During the last election campaign, in 2015, then-Liberal leader Justin Trudeau promised to put an end to the policy prohibiting homosexuals from donating blood constituents and products. It’s now 2018 and nothing has changed. While it’s true that since August 2016 the temporary ban period has been reduced to one year, this reduced time period has not had a real impact on the ability to give blood. Moreover, the policy in place remains a discriminatory one against men who have had sexual relations with other men (“MSRM “). Therefore, this shorter ban period is simply not what was promised on the campaign trail.

In the following paragraphs, we shine a light on the legislative and regulatory framework surrounding blood donations by MSRM in Canada. These points are clarified because the federal government tried to shirk its responsibilities by stating that its hands were tied because of the recommendations put forth by Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec. We then examine the situation in Europe in order to evaluate the state of affairs here in Canada with a more critical eye. This will lead us to suggest what changes should be made to the current system so that it complies with a scientific and non-discriminatory approach. Specifically, we are of the view that Parliament and the federal government should clarify the legal structure in this area to allow for judicial review of the policies that were implemented.

Continue reading this article, available in French only.