BRANDON — The union representing staff at Brandon’s blood donor clinic wants people to give blood in the hope Canadian Blood Services will reverse its decision to close in June.
Michelle Gawronsky, president of the Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union (MGEU), went to the clinic Wednesday to donate blood and draw attention to the closing.
"I’m absolutely flabbergasted and stunned. All I’ve ever heard from Blood Services for the last 25 years, is how there’s a shortage of blood," Gawronsky said.
"So to have one of the more major ones in the province actually closing its doors... it’s stunning, I don’t understand."
The clinic will close June 8. It will be replaced by a twice-monthly mobile clinic that will drive to Brandon from Winnipeg starting June 15.
The eleven mobile blood-donor clinics for western Manitoba that operate out of the Brandon office will be discontinued.
There are 12 MGEU members, three Manitoba Nurses’ Union members and two non-union staff who will lose their jobs.
Canadian Blood Services said the Brandon office has not been reaching its blood-donor targets for at least four years, getting only 75 to 85 per cent of the 5,000 units of blood per year they’d set as their goal.
"If there’s an issue with not having enough donors, let’s figure out how we up that," Gawronsky said.
"I’m hoping Blood Services is going to hear us loud and clear and know that we want to be able to work together... I can’t think of anything more important than blood at this particular moment — anybody having surgery, anybody that’s gone through cancer, anybody that’s anemic. I’ve worked in the health-care system for a long time; I know how much blood is needed."
Brandon-Souris Conservative MP Larry Maguire’s online petition to save Brandon’s blood clinic surpassed his goal of 1,000 signatures within 24 hours.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the number was around 1,300. He plans to present the petition to Canadian Blood Services in April.
When asked if there are any plans to revisit its decision on the clinic, Canadian Blood Services sent an email that said the decision "will not impact hospital patients."
A spokesperson said regular reviews are conducted on their operations to determine "the best and most efficient locations" and any decisions involving changes to clinic locations are based on a thorough analysis.
"Canadian Blood Services understands that this change is very disappointing for our dedicated volunteers and donors, and for the affected employees," the email stated.
"We would like to reiterate that the decision we made is not a reflection of our employees or the donors who have supported the Brandon clinic and Westman area over the years.
In fact, this decision was made in the best interest of Canada’s blood system and the Canadians we serve."
firstname.lastname@example.org— Brandon Sun