Canadian Red Cross signs letter of intent to transfer blood services Employees to new blood agencies

OTTAWA, ONTARIO, May 20, 1998 - The Canadian Red Cross and governments reached an important understanding today, with the signing of the first in a series of letters of intent that will shape Canada's new blood system. The letter of intent signed by negotiators representing the Red Cross and the federal, provincial, territorial and Québec governments clarifies the terms of transfer for Red Cross Blood Services employees who will join the staff of the new Canadian Blood Services (CBS) and its Québec equivalent, HÉMA-QUÉBEC.

Red Cross Blood Services employees are engaged in work ranging from nursing and laboratory services to operational management. Nearly 3,500 employees work at dozens of centres across Canada. With today's letter of intent, the Red Cross will transfer most of its Blood Services employees to the new agencies by September 1, 1998.

"We are very pleased with this letter of intent because it ensures fair treatment of our employees when we transfer them to the new operators," said Jean Pierre Laroche, Chief Operating Officer of the Canadian Red Cross. "We also want to assure donors that the Red Cross will continue to collect blood until the transfer takes effect," added Laroche. "We encourage them to keep on giving the Gift of Life once the new agencies take over."

"Red Cross employees are the most valuable asset we can acquire as we reshape blood services in Canada," said CBS spokesperson Bernie Doyle. "We value the contribution they've made to date and we look forward to working with them to build a safe and effective national blood supply system."

Dr. Francine Décary, Executive Director of HÉMA-QUÉBEC, agreed. "Red Cross Blood Services employees working in the Québec Region will be the foundation of the blood management system in Québec," she said. "Their experience and particular skills will be extremely useful to us."

Negotiators working on behalf of federal, provincial, territorial and the Québec governments continue to develop letters of intent on the transfer of blood donor records and Red Cross capital assets to the country's two new blood agencies, leading to the conclusion of a final transition agreement. Both CBS and HÉMA-QUÉBEC plan to launch their operations on September 1, 1998. CBS and HÉMA-QUÉBEC have also forged plans that will ensure a high degree of coordination and cooperation between the two blood agencies.