New Brunswick

Saint John mayor threatens legal action in blood fight

Saint John Mayor Ivan Court is threatening legal action against Canadian Blood Services if it doesn't reconsider its plans to close the blood production center in the city.

Wants to keep blood production centre in city

Saint John Mayor Ivan Court is threatening legal action against Canadian Blood Services if it doesn't reconsider its plans to close the blood production center in the city.

He is also calling for an all-party agreement that the provincial government will reconsider its decision to continue its relationship with Canadian Blood Services even after the blood agency closes the Saint John production centre and consolidates services in Dartmouth, N.S., later this year.

And he has suggested the province hold a referendum vote during the May 12 municipal elections to get public input on the issue.

"This fight is not over," Court told CBC News on Wednesday.

"There's a movement afoot. I know that politicians are looking at this. I know that unions are looking at this, but this is not about unions, it's not about politicians. It's about health care and saving lives," he said.

"We'll take them to court, get a court injunction and force them. Why is the province of New Brunswick going to be denied what every other province [except P.E.I.] can have?"

Earlier this month, the provincial government announced it had abandoned any plans to create a stand-alone blood agency once CBS closes the blood production centre in Saint John.

Health Minister Madeleine Dubé said it would be too expensive and the provincial government is in a precarious financial position.

Still, Court insists the fight isn't over and people who are pushing to keep the centre in Saint John went ahead with hosting a blood symposium Tuesday night at the Saint John Trade and Convention Centre, which about 200 people attended.

"We believe, and we said all along, whether they make a decision or not, it's still important to put that issue on the table," said Court, one of the organizers.

"This is a critical health care issue, it is the foundation piece for patient care and patient needs in this province, namely access to fresh blood and it's the quality, quantity and timely delivery of that product. It saves lives."

Although CBS has said it will ensure a three-day supply, Court argued that's not sufficient.

"We are the industrial hub for Atlantic Canada. The risk factor here of a major disaster is far greater than anywhere else," he said.

The Saint John Regional Hospital, with its trauma centre, heart centre, cancer unit and neurosurgery, is also a provincial hospital for those who require the most serious care," said Court.

The mayor also questioned what happens if delivery isn't possible, noting that the Cobequid Pass between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia was closed on Tuesday due to an accident and the Saint John Airport was closed due to fog.

Several doctors in the region have repeatedly raised concerns that blood products won't be able to reach patients in time and that lives could be lost.

CBS officials dipute those claims.