Blood Program: 1946 until 1997-1998

Although the Canadian Red Cross Society no longer has a role in Canada’s blood donation system, the society was involved in the collection of voluntary blood donations from 1946 until 1997-1998, when the entire Canadian blood system was overhauled.
Today, the supply of blood and blood products is now managed by Canadian Blood Services – except in Quebec, where it is managed by Héma-Québec.
Despatch magazine wartime blood transfusionThe Canadian Red Cross Society blood program was developed following the Second World War, collecting civilian blood for use in the life-saving procedure of blood transfusion, in military hospitals overseas.

Canadians responded generously to this new opportunity to help save the lives of the sick and wounded.
The success of the wartime program led to a peacetime equivalent for the general population. The Canada-wide blood system came into existence after forming agreements with each individual province about how to structure, manage and pay for the program.
The collection of blood donations by the Red Cross helped make possible a whole range of new treatments in Canadian hospitals.
Donors who rolled up their sleeve at Red Cross blood clinics and during blood donation drives often received a small pin to wear proudly as a token of gratitude from the Red Cross.

blood-page-image2-(2).jpgDuring the 1990s, the Canadian Red Cross’s central role in Canada’s voluntary blood donation system came under scrutiny as concerns about possible blood contamination arose around the world during the 1980s.

The Krever Inquiry

In 1993 the federal government established the Commission of Inquiry on the Blood System in Canada (known as the Krever Inquiry, for its chair, Justice Horace Krever).

The final report was released in 1997 and led to two independent not-for-profit agencies taking over the management of the blood system: Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec.

The Red Cross acknowledges with profound sadness that people were infected by tainted blood in the 1980s and deeply regrets not developing and adopting measures more quickly to reduce the risk of infection. We were part of a system that failed and we are very sorry for what happened. Our thoughts continue to be with those who were affected and their families.

While the Canadian Red Cross no longer has a blood program, the society is committed to a range of public and community health services in Canada.

Learn more about the many ways to support the Canadian Red Cross:
Volunteer Explore our current opportunities to give back to your community, meet new people and make a difference.

Donate A financial gift allows us to respond rapidly to emergencies and disasters in Canada and around the world, providing hope to people in crisis.