A state-of-the art blood processing and distribution centre will open early next year in Brampton, Ont., taking the place of centres in Toronto, Hamilton and London.
The centre, part of an $83 million capital investment by Canadian Blood Services, will serve about 100 hospitals in southern and central Ontario, said spokeswoman Angela Smith.
The consolidated centre is for blood processing — the breaking down of blood into plasma, platelets, red blood cells and other products — and not a place for making donations.
The advantage of the Brampton location, Smith said, is that it’s close to three highways — the 401, 427 and 407 — and close to Pearson International Airport. Blood products can be shipped easily to and from other parts of the country.
"Or if someone within Ontario needs a certain blood product, we can fly that in from any other part of Canada where we collect and process blood," Smith said.
The new centre will process about 1,470 units of blood a day and ship about 1,620 blood products.
Unlike the three centres it’s replacing, the Brampton plant will be a round-the-clock, seven-days-a-week operation, Smith said.
"It’s state-of-the-art, it’s built specifically for that purpose, it’s incredibly efficient."
About 340 people will be employed at the centre at 100 Park Shore Drive in Brampton. They'll include 250 existing staff members and about 100 new employees.
The Toronto operation will be the first to move into the Brampton centre, beginning in January. Smith said 168 employees from Toronto have chosen to remain with Canadian Blood Services and 49 have chosen to take a severance package.
Need increases over holidays
Regardless of where the blood is processed, the need for donations is constant, Smith said.
She spoke to CBC News on Thanksgiving weekend, which, like most holiday weekends, can be a special problem for the blood collection service. Donations decline because many people take holidays.
"It’s an unfortunate reality of long weekends is that more people are driving and therefore we sometimes have more accidents," Smith said. "As a result of that, we sometimes have an increased need over these long weekends. We have an increased need but we have fewer donors coming in."
She encouraged people to call 1-888-2DONATE (1-888-236-6283) to find a clinic and book an appointment for a blood donation.