MPs pass Calgary Conservative Len Webber’s motion to review the science behind donor restrictions
MPs on the House of Commons health committee voted Tuesday to review Canada’s restrictions on male blood donors who have had sex with other men.
Last June, Health Canada cleared the way for men who’ve abstained from sex with other men for at least one year to donate blood. But gay men who are currently sexually active remain banned.
The committee will study the scientific basis for blood donor restrictions, calling on experts to inform future policy decisions.
Canadian Blood Services, the agency that oversees the national supply of blood and blood products, along with Quebec’s agency Héma-Québec, submitted a proposal to the department in March asking for waiting period regulations for men having sex with men (MSM) to be reduced from five years to one year.
Prior to 2013, there was a ban on male donors who’d had intercourse with other men. The national blood agencies and Health Canada replaced the blanket ban with a waiting period.
The shorter, one-year waiting period, which took effect nationally on Aug. 15, fell short of the Liberal Party’s commitment during the 2015 election to end the practice of singling out these particular donors and requiring abstinence for a defined period of time.
In announcing Health Canada’s change last June, Health Minister Jane Philpott said she recognized that shortening the waiting period was not a radical change nor sufficient for those affected.
“I would rather see Canada take a step in the right direction than stand still,” the minister said.
Changes could be coming to Canada’s restrictions on gay men donating blood
Gay men may soon be able to donate blood with fewer or even no restrictions.
A motion was passed today by MPs in Ottawa to review the science behind the current policy.
Calgary Conservative MP Len Webber is hoping the health committee study in the fall will help establish who should be able to donate.
“There is this impression that a one-year ban on the men sex with men blood donations is not based on science. That is what I hope to clear up at this committee meeting and study by just asking to take a look at the justification against gay men donating blood,” he says.