A Promise
for Life

Annual Report 2017–2018

When Canadian Blood Services opened its doors in 1998, our purpose was clear: to provide patients with lifesaving products and services that meet the highest standards of safety and quality.

In our first 20 years, we’ve evolved to meet the changing needs of patients and the priorities of Canada’s health systems. Our responsibilities now include life essentials for transfusion and transplantation, including blood, plasma, stem cells, and organs and tissues.

As our expertise and experience have grown, we’ve stayed focused on delivering value in all dimensions of health care while consistently earning Canadians’ confidence and trust. Our horizons continue to expand, but our commitment remains unchanged. It’s a promise for life.

I’ve lived a life where I wasn’t receiving donor blood, and I don't want to go back. I don’t know of a more literal or more powerful way to give of yourself.”

Blood recipient

In 2017–2018, Canadian Blood Services undertook a comprehensive review of what we stand for and how we fulfil our promise to Canadians. Patients’ needs have changed over the past 20 years, and we have evolved to meet them. We’ve expanded and improved our products and services, and we’ve adopted new tools, processes and strategies to achieve the highest standards of safety and quality as cost-efficiently as possible.

Yet we cannot stand still. Canadian society is changing, data and technology are rapidly advancing, and new scientific developments and trends in clinical practice are emerging. To continue to progress, we must quickly adapt.

We recognized that it was time to reconnect with our purpose, take a fresh look at how we communicate our goals and reaffirm what Canadians can count on us to deliver. One result has been a renewal of our corporate brand, expressions of which you will find throughout this annual report. More fundamentally, we’ve restated our vision, mission and values, along with the shared values that anchor everything we do.

Our vision

To help every patient.
To match every need.
To serve every Canadian.

Our mission

We are Canada’s biological lifeline.

We are the connection between the sincere generosity of donors and the heartfelt appreciation of recipients, between the profound discoveries of science and the joyful restoration of health.

As such, we are nationally responsible for a secure system of life essentials for transfusion or transplantation that’s reliable, accessible and sustainable.

That’s why our organization must be efficient, our performance disciplined. We must work as one with our colleagues and partners at all levels.

We must be prudent yet smart, rigorous yet agile, capable yet concerned. And we must be innovative, reinventing today so we can find better answers for tomorrow.

In a very real way, what we do affects the well-being of all Canadians and every day we must earn their trust.

We make a difference and in that, we take great pride.

Our values


I can't tell you how it felt to channel our grief into something positive that would benefit other families experiencing what we’ve gone through.”

Volunteer, financial donor

It is our privilege to provide all Canadians with the lifesaving products and services they need — today and into the future. Working closely with health systems across the country, we apply our expertise in transfusion and transplantation medicine to deliver value in three critical areas:

Improving patient outcomes

Patients are at the heart of everything we do. Canadians need and deserve reliable access to the life essentials — blood, plasma, stem cells, and organs and tissues — they depend on for their health and well-being. Every product we manufacture and every service we offer is designed with one ultimate goal: to deliver the best possible patient treatment and care.

We constantly analyze the health-care environment, nationally and globally, to consider how we may need to adapt and evolve, and to determine where we can add even more value.

Enhancing system performance

Canadian Blood Services is only one part of Canada’s broader network of health-care systems. We collaborate across provincial health systems and share innovative research, clinical guidelines, leading practices, educational resources and proven service models with health-care partners. In this way, we are contributing to the continuous improvement of health care in Canada.

Optimizing cost-efficiency

Our funders, and all Canadians, expect us to carefully manage the resources entrusted to us and achieve the most positive outcomes for patients as efficiently as possible. To do this, we constantly seek savings in our own operations while maintaining the highest standards of safety and quality. And we share what we’ve learned to help the health systems and networks in which we participate to become as productive as possible.

With all the blood transfusions I’ve had during my blood cancer journey, the gratitude I owe my heroes is immeasurable. Their grace, strength and kindness run through my veins every day and I hope I reflect their strength of character in all that I do.”

Blood and stem cell recipient
Quality Management System

We have been evolving our quality management system for several years. In 2017–2018, we continued to adopt processes and practices across our organization that align with best practices of manufacturers of biological product.

Our quality management system is a framework for delivering products and services that are safe, effective and free of defects and that meet the needs and expectations of our hospital customers. It includes:

  • policies, processes and procedures governing how quality is managed
  • a formal quality assurance program to ensure we meet all requirements
  • the tools and resources we need to conduct these activities
  • a system of quality metrics to monitor and evaluate effectiveness

As part of our work to continuously improve our operations — a key driver of quality — we refined our corrective and preventive action (CAPA) process. The CAPA process is designed to stop instances of non-conformity from happening or recurring across every area of our operations. All employees and their managers are encouraged to initiate CAPAs to address any departures from policies and procedures. Dedicated teams of CAPA investigators coordinate investigations of moderate- and high-risk events that put quality at risk, to ensure they are addressed quickly and effectively.

As a result of these and other related efforts, we saw 86 per cent fewer moderate- and high-risk quality events in 2017–2018 compared with the previous fiscal year.

Quality Policy

Underpinning this work is our new quality policy, which reaffirms our commitment to delivering products and services efficiently, to the most rigorous standards, on time, every time. Introduced in the past year, the policy articulates our shared responsibility to ensure that everything we do prioritizes the health of the patient and that each of us bears the full weight of this responsibility.

Our quality policy is more than a declaration of intent. It’s a set of principles designed to guide the actions of employees and volunteers in every area of our operations. These principles can be summed up this way:

Safety above all else. There can be no compromise, no exceptions. Lives depend on it.

If you doubt it, shout it. If you see a problem, don’t assume someone else will fix it. It’s your job to voice concern. And it’s everybody’s job to listen.

Each patient is your patient. Imagine it’s someone you know, even someone you love, looking forward to recovery, and focus on that priority throughout your daily tasks.

To share is to care. Teamwork is important in any enterprise, but in our field, it’s vital. Work together — and make it easy to help each other.

Good enough is not enough. We must always be learning, discovering and finding better ways to work, both individually and as an organization.

The only constant is change. As our environment evolves, we must constantly adapt in order to stay relevant — and to serve Canadians even better.

My hope is that by donating my babies’ cord blood we may help save someone’s life.”

Employee, two-time cord blood donor

In parallel with the publication of this annual report, we’re also finalizing Keeping the Promise: Canadian Blood Services’ 2019–2024 Strategic Plan. As we developed this five-year plan, we found many opportunities for innovation and improvement. But strategy begins with making choices. After extensive internal and external consultations, we arrived at the following areas of strategic focus:

  • Meet changing patient needs by providing lifesaving products and services.
  • Build and deepen relationships with the donors of the future.
  • Ensure a secure supply of Canadian plasma for immune globulin.
  • Create an engaging and empowering employee experience.
  • Achieve organizational excellence.

To create this strategic plan, we consulted with stakeholders, including our employees, researched the trends shaping our operating environment and reflected on priorities and practices across our organization. We also confirmed alignment of our priorities with funding governments, ensuring we move forward in a way that’s consistent with provincial and territorial health-care priorities. Keeping the Promise outlines where we will focus our efforts to deliver the best health-care outcomes for Canadians and sets out the milestones for our path forward.

In developing our five-year strategic plan, we've tried to strike the right balance between optimizing the work we do today and embracing opportunities to benefit the patients of the future.

Here are the three ways we're delivering on our promise