Canadian Blood Services faces backlash after lifting mask mandates at donor centers

Canadian Blood Services has announced it is no longer requiring masks at its donor centers, a move that has drawn backlash from health experts and some longtime donors.

The organization tweeted Monday that effective July 25 it would suspend mask-wearing and physical distancing requirements in its buildings, vehicles and collection events, but said its donor centers would remain “mask-friendly.”

“Although not required, masks help slow the spread of COVID-19 and are welcome in our settings and available to anyone who chooses to wear them.” the organization said in a tweet.

But Dr. Nili Kaplan-Myrth, an Ottawa-based family physician, called the move “irresponsible.”

“Anyone who comes into Canada Blood Services to donate now is at risk of leaving with COVID.” she told by phone on Tuesday. “It’s an indoor environment that’s a medical clinic. There’s no excuse for them to let people in without masks.”

Kaplan-Myrth also noted that this decision comes at a time when COVID-19 cases are rising across the country, as Omicron’s BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants drive a summer wave of the virus.

“Why are we doing this? Why are we being so irresponsible? Why aren’t we using the tools that we have? You know, for God’s sake, any medical environment that removes mask requirements really puts people at risk.” patients and staff,” she said.

This decision also comes as Canada Blood Services is facing critical supply shortages as donations have dwindled since the start of the pandemic. says the organization need to fill 57,000 donation appointment seats at the end of August.

In light of mandatory mask removal, some veteran donors say they are considering canceling or delaying upcoming appointments

Scott Stager Piatkowski of Waterloo, Ont. A resident who has donated 136 times in the past 35 years, he said he was “shocked and disappointed” to hear the announcement and has already canceled his September donation appointment.

“Canadian Blood Services is a health service and their decision making should be guided by the best medical evidence, and the best medical evidence says that masking is still important,” he told in a phone interview Tuesday.

“I have been watching to see if they are retracting yesterday’s announcement and as soon as I see that they have, I will rebook for September,” added Stager Piatkowski.

In an email statement to, Canadian Blood Services said the decision was made in light of the fact that most Canadians are fully vaccinated and illnesses from COVID-19 now tend to be “much less common.” severe in most cases.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, Canadian Blood Services’ approach has been cautious and measured. All decisions have been made in consultation with our medical and epidemiological experts and, at a minimum, in compliance with applicable public health requirements,” he said. Delphine Denis, spokesperson. for Canadian blood services.

Canadian Blood Services also said free N95 and surgical masks would continue to be available to any staff member, volunteer, donor or visitor.

“We will continue to closely monitor the epidemiology and scientific knowledge and reintroduce mandatory masks and physical distancing if necessary,” the organization said.

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