TIMELINE | Canadian Blood Services controversy in New Brunswick
The timeline of events:
March 31, 2009: Canadian Blood Services announces plans to consolidate some of its facilities across the country as a means to cut costs and improve efficiency. The national, non-profit organization says that 17 full-time positions in Saint John, N.B., would be eliminated by 2012 once a new production and distribution facility is up and running in Dartmouth, N.S.
April 2, 2009: An all-party legislative committee is struck with a mandate to have the decision to close the blood production facility located in Saint John, NB, reversed.
May 13, 2009: New Brunswick Medical Society president Dr. Ludger Blier writes an open letter to Canadian Blood Services, raising questions and concerns about the plan.
June 15-16, 2009: Members of the Task Force on Blood Services and concerned stakeholders hold a two-day meeting with CBS in Fredericton, urging it to reverse its decision to close the Saint John production centre.
Sept. 24, 2009: Premier Shawn Graham announces the province would be willing to pay to millions of dollars to expand the existing Canadian Blood Services building in Saint John to meet its standards, as a way to keep the facility from relocating to Nova Scotia.
Sept. 28, 2009: CUPE officials say they're hopeful a deal can be negotiated to save the facility and that jobs will be saved.
Oct 7, 2009: Canadian Blood Services announces it's going ahead with plans to close its Saint John production centre and move it to Dartmouth, N.S., with CEO Graham Sher saying it's "premised on safety and security of supply, first and foremost."
Oct. 8, 2009: Canadian Blood Services announces it's considering maintaining some of the Saint John centre's important services in the city, including the collection of blood platelets, which have a short shelf life. The agency also plans to create a stock holding unit for blood in the city, enough to meet day-to-day hospital needs, and to build new donor collection sites in Saint John and Moncton. It says it will try to accommodate the 17 people whose jobs will be affected by the move.
Oct. 9, 2009: Quebec Ministry of Health officials confirm the New Brunswick government is negotiating to join Quebec's blood agency, Héma-Québec, and pull out of Canadian Blood Services over its plan to move the production centre out of Saint John.
June 25, 2010: The head of the medical staff organization for the Saint John region, Dr. Andrea Garland, says doctors are concerned blood products won't be able to reach patients in time and that lives could be lost. She says it's time for New Brunswick to handle its own blood processing.
Aug. 3, 2010: Then health minister Mary Schryer announces the province has hired KPMG to study whether it should accept consolidation, partner with another blood agency or start its own blood agency, after all-party legislative committee recommends the government look at ways it could keep a blood production facility in New Brunswick. Consultant's report is expected by March 2011.
May 12, 2011: Opposition Liberal MLA and health critic Bill Fraser calls for release of the taxpayer-funded report about the future of blood services in the province, accusing the government of stalling.
June 3, 2011: Health Minister Madeleine Dubé says it will be a while before she releases the KPMG report because she needs time to read it and show it to fellow cabinet ministers.
July 26, 2011: Health Minister Madeleine Dubé releases KPMG report, which does not offer a specific recommendation on what option the government should pick, but rates the option of sticking with Canadian Blood Services — even if the agency moved its operations to Nova Scotia — the highest. The reports estimates it would cost the province at least $23 million in upfront costs, plus a growing amount of annual costs on top of that figure, to either set up its own agency or join another agency, such as Héma-Québec.
July 26, 2011: The New Brunswick Medical Society, the organization that represents the province's doctors, issues a statement, saying doctors are continuing to back a plan that would keep and enhance blood production facilities in province, according to a statement issued by the medical society.
July 27, 2011: Canadian Blood Services says the move of its office will go ahead as planned.
July 29, 2011: Premier David Alward asks Prime Minister Stephen Harper if he has the power to help prevent Canadian Blood Services from moving blood production from Saint John, N.B., to Dartmouth.
Nov. 10, 2011: A leaked report by Growth Strategies, dated Aug. 25, 2011, contradicts earlier KPMG report, suggesting that setting up an independent blood centre in New Brunswick could be cheaper than staying with Canadian Blood Services — about $10 million annually, compared to the national agency's estimated annual costs of $14 million.
Nov. 23, 2011: The head of Canadian Blood Services, chief executive officer Dr. Graham Sher, publishes an open letter in three of the province's daily newspapers to correct what he claims are false allegations around patient safety, supply and costs once services are consolidated in Dartmouth.
Dec. 1, 2011: Dr. Graham Sher flies from Ottawa to Saint John to refute what his organization refers to as "misinformation and fear-mongering" at a press conference. He gives his word that the blood supply will remain "adequate and safe."
Dec. 13, 2011: A committee of New Brunswickers fighting to keep the blood processing and delivery clinic in Saint John announce plans to hold a symposium on the issue on Jan. 24.
Jan. 13, 2012: Health Minister Madeleine Dubé announces the government will continue its relationship with Canadian Blood Services, saying it would be too costly to set up a New Brunswick-based system.