Lab Canada

Canadian Blood Services to maintain production facilities in Saint John and Halifax

Ottawa, ON — February 18, 2003 — Canadian Blood Services has made the decision to maintain its production facilities in Saint John, NB and Halifax, NS instead of moving them to a new location in Moncton, NB as previously announced. Production will remain in both Saint John and Halifax for at least a year and possibly longer.

“The emergence of the West Nile Virus has redirected our attention and altered our plans for the future,” says Dr Graham Sher, chief executive officer of Canadian Blood Services. “The organization is taking the necessary steps to introduce a test for West Nile Virus this summer.

“In addition, we have begun to stockpile frozen blood products for use this summer in the event a test is not available or is delayed,” he says. “Taking into consideration these priorities and emerging technologies, we will consider how best to modernize production at some point. Until then, things will remain the same as they are now.”

The plan to create a consolidated production facility for the Maritimes in Moncton was first announced in April 2002 as part of an overall restructuring of the blood system that included the introduction of a specialized computer system, as well as consolidation of laboratory testing, and telephone recruitment and support.

In the blood system, production refers to the processing of platelets, red cells and plasma products. Moncton was selected as the production site for New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island primarily because of its location, being closer to Charlottetown and Halifax than Saint John. Because of the short shelf life of platelets (five days), it was felt the reduced travelling time from Moncton to the other centres would be a significant benefit.

In order to meet the increasing need for blood in Canadian hospitals, Canadian Blood Services determined that it must increase its capacity as well as the speed of testing and production. It is currently in the process of creating three central testing laboratories — in Calgary, Toronto and Halifax. These labs will permit CBS to introduce new tests for viruses that would have been difficult to add under the old system, such as the anticipated test for West Nile Virus.