Blood clinics on P.E.I. cross picket line, ignite debate online

A three-day mobile blood donation clinic on P.E.I. crosses a picket line — and led to a heated debate online. Here are some of your comments.

Readers debate whether or not to give blood during strike

P.E.I.'s striking blood services workers set up a picket line outside a mobile donation clinic. (CBC)

For the first time since Canadian Blood Services workers in P.E.I. went on strike in September, Islanders are donating blood on the Island — but it's not without controversy.

Workers from Nova Scotia crossed the bridge — and a picket line — to set up a three-day mobile donation clinic. The workers belong to the same union but are from a different local, so they can't refuse to work.

When we posted the story to the CBC P.E.I. Facebook page, a heated debate emerged in the comments over whether donors should give blood while the strike is ongoing.

(Please note that usernames are not necessarily the names of commenters. Some comments have been altered to correct spelling and to conform to CBC style.)

To give or not to give?

Some people stated they would give blood — despite the strike.

"It is not them needing blood, it is for our fellow Canadians who really need it," wrote Jean Coughlin. "I am donating tomorrow."

But others said the picket line is keeping them away.

"I am a donor but will not be participating in this clinic," wrote Trish Williams. "Our workers in P.E.I. are not asking for a lot, just enough hours to get benefits … It might not be much but they have my support in this strike!"

Getting blood to Island hospitals

The issue of whether blood from P.E.I. is needed at all was also hotly debated.

Canadian Blood Services has stated that the strike would not affect blood supply levels as blood is being distributed to Island hospitals from Nova Scotia. 

"I ask all of you in favour of the strikes to put yourself in the shoes of someone who needs a blood transfusion every single day," wrote Savannah Mai Salone.

"Now imagine that that person also carries a rare blood type on top of that. To top it all off, the reason that it is a struggle for you to receive the blood you so desperately need, is that people have been complaining about not getting enough hours for months now (a problem many Island workers already face) and instead of going out and looking for a more desirable position for themselves they choose to put your life at risk because they'd rather sit around and complain everyday."

To counter that point, Jason M Arsenault wrote, "No one is in danger and these people have the right to collective bargaining. These arguments that include things like, 'They'd rather sit around and complain everyday,' are so very wrong and ignorant."

'Stop holding donors hostage'

Many commenters expressed the desire for the strike to reach a resolution one way or another.

"Considering people in Prince Edward Island need blood, let people on the Island donate without a hassle," wrote Glenn Freeman. "I feel for your situation, but set politics aside when lives are on the line."

"This is shameful and not the way to deal with resolution," wrote Marie Shartner Gilchrist. "People give their time for free to make this life saving donation of their blood. Stop holding the donors hostage."