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In 2018, Canadian Blood Services celebrates 20 years of dedicated service to Canadians. As the theme of this annual report suggests, our organization was founded on a promise. We committed to provide all Canadians with safe, secure access to high-quality blood and blood products, and we pledged to work with our health-system partners across the country to constantly advance patient treatment and care. Those intertwined commitments have guided every decision we have made over the past two decades, and they continue to do so today.

While a devotion to continuous improvement has shaped Canadian Blood Services from the beginning, as we approached our 20-year milestone we were inspired to take a more in-depth look at the building blocks of our promise. We re-examined our purpose, our mission and how we talk about the value Canadians receive from the systems we connect and manage. We also began the next chapter in the governance of Canadian Blood Services by welcoming several new board members, including a highly accomplished chair, Mel Cappe. The cumulative effect of these various initiatives is a sense of renewed energy and focus, as we harness the momentum we have built over the past several years and direct it toward specific goals. To illustrate this transformative process in action, I will highlight just two of the many achievements showcased in this annual report.

Restating our purpose

Over the course of two decades, we have leveraged our experience in the production and distribution of blood and blood products to expand the value we provide. Our scope of impact has grown to include the donation and transplantation of stems cells, and organs and tissues, along with many areas of groundbreaking clinical research. Many Canadians, however, are unaware of the scale and full value of our contribution to Canada’s health-care systems.

At the same time, we have seen significant changes in clinical practice, new medical technologies, increased competition for hearts and minds, and shifting demand patterns, all of which affect the transfusion and transplantation system every day. We know that to continue meeting patient needs, we must increase and diversify our donor base in all of the areas in we work — not only for blood and plasma, but also for stem cells, organs and tissues, and financial donations, and all in a very competitive market.

In 2017–2018, we embarked on a systematic rethinking of what Canadian Blood Services stands for and how we convey the benefits we provide to patients, donors and health systems across the country. In undertaking this renewal process, we consulted many stakeholders, as well as our own employees. While we referred to this process as a renewal of our brand, the focus was not on our logo or tagline (although both have been refreshed) but, more importantly, on what drives us as an organization and the values that underpin all of our decision-making. The result is a fundamental restatement of purpose, including a new mission — We are Canada’s biological lifeline — which reflects our evolution beyond the legacy retained in our name.

As part of our strategy for the future, we strongly believe the renewal of our brand is essential to our ability to stay relevant. The work accomplished during the past year will provide a solid platform for future success, and is a critical step in broadening our appeal to the next generation of Canadians and to a more diverse community of donors.

Evolving our strategy

Canadian Blood Services, guided by our board of directors, has always operated according to a clear, multi-year plan with well-defined priorities. However, as the pace of change continues to accelerate — in health care and in society generally — we have recognized a need to update and refine our strategy to ensure it remains relevant to the needs of Canadians.

Over the past year, we consulted a diverse array of stakeholders, researched the key trends shaping our environment and examined the current practices and long-term goals of our organization. We also studied trends in the practice of medicine, as well as emerging scientific research that is pointing the way to new forms of patient treatment and care.

The outcome of our consultations and information-gathering is Keeping the Promise: Canadian Blood Services’ 2019–2024 Strategic Plan, a detailed roadmap identifying our key areas of focus for the next five years and beyond. It will set out the following strategic priorities:

  • 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.

Keeping the Promise will also recognize the critical importance of engaging and empowering our employees as we strive to set even higher standards of quality across our operations. Underpinning all of these efforts is our continued commitment to achieving and sustaining organizational excellence.

As important as this new plan is, however, it does not break new ground, nor should it. For Canadian Blood Services, progress will always be evolutionary, not revolutionary. We embrace promising products and manufacturing techniques, we adapt to improvements in medical practice, we pursue new and better ways of working as an organization, but always within the scope of our founding commitment: to provide Canadians with safe, dependable access to the highest-quality treatment and care.

Our promise remains

We have tackled many challenges in our 20-year journey, and more lie ahead. Canada’s plasma sufficiency, for example, declined further during the past year, and we see a widening gap between worldwide demand for plasma protein products and global manufacturing capacity. In response, we have been increasing the amount of plasma we collect through our existing infrastructure, and we will be expanding our plasma collections into the future. These efforts are not optional for us; ensuring an adequate percentage of plasma sufficiency for lifesaving immune globulin for Canada and Canadian patients is a core responsibility for Canadian Blood Services. We will also seek opportunities to deepen the ongoing dialogue around utilization, contributing our research data and expertise.

As we search for better solutions to increasingly complex problems, one thing is certain: it is people who will provide the answers. Within Canadian Blood Services, we know we can rely on our talented, dedicated employees to identify opportunities for improvement, to uncover valuable research insights and to find that perfect balance between helpful technology and the equally vital human touch.

Similarly, it is people in communities across Canada who encourage our efforts and inspire us to do our best. When catastrophe strikes — as it did this past year in the tragic bus accident near Humboldt, Saskatchewan, and in the horrific attacks on innocent people on the streets of Toronto — thousands of blood donors immediately booked appointments and began walking into our donor centres. Others registered to become organ and tissue donors. Still others made financial contributions to help the patients we serve.

These outpourings of support reinforce the impact of what Canadian Blood Services pledges to do every day: connect generous donors with grateful recipients. For the next 20 years, and for many more decades to come, we will carry on our commitment to improving and saving the lives of patients across the country. And we will succeed, thanks to the contributions of all those who make up Canada’s lifeline — employees and volunteers, medical and research professionals, donors and patients, hospitals and provincial health care, and all Canadians. Together, we have made a promise for life.

Dr. Graham D. Sher
Chief Executive Officer

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