It is a privilege to deliver my first message to readers of Canadian Blood Services’ annual report on behalf of the board of directors.
Prior to assuming the role of chair in January 2018, I had watched this organization evolve over two decades into a respected leader among blood operators worldwide and a vital player within Canada’s network of health systems. Created in response to one of the gravest public health crises in our history, Canadian Blood Services was committed from the outset to being a safe, reliable source of high-quality blood and blood products for patients across the country. Our role in Canadian health care has since grown beyond blood: today, we focus on life essentials for transfusion and transplantation, including blood, plasma, stem cells, and organs and tissues.
All Canadians can take pride in an organization that strives to help every patient, to match every need, and to serve every Canadian. Like my fellow board members and more than 3,800 dedicated Canadian Blood Services employees — along with some 17,000 volunteers who generously share their time in our donation centres and at recruitment events — I am proud to play a part in extending that impact.
A foundation of trust
The vast majority of Canadians — 95 per cent, according our latest survey — believe the country’s blood supply is well managed. Canadian Blood Services strives every day to strengthen public confidence, working to be more agile and responsive to patients’ changing needs while prudently managing the resources entrusted to us.
Our approach is fundamentally collaborative, drawing on the knowledge and experience of patients, physicians, hospital staff, health-system leaders and other stakeholders across Canada. This annual report details our progress over the past year on a wide range of fronts, from our efforts to build deeper relationships with current and future donors, to our comprehensive plan for securing a more robust domestic supply of plasma. In welcoming Canadians’ input on these and other facets of our work, we fulfil a key recommendation of Justice Horace Krever, whose Royal Commission of Inquiry led to our founding: “The public must have access to information about the policy, management and operations of the blood supply system and be represented in the decision making.”
For Canadian Blood Services, the guiding principles set out by Justice Krever remain as relevant today as they were 20 years ago.
A legacy of sound governance
Our founding governments astutely recognized the need for a governance structure that ensures vigilant oversight of our management and operations while protecting the independence of the system; we are empowered to make decisions based on the best available medical and scientific evidence. Most of the funding for our not-for-profit organization is provided by provincial and territorial ministers of health, who also elect our board of directors. The board in turn is responsible for setting strategy and confirming that all day-to-day operational decisions are consistent with that overall strategic direction.
During 2017–2018, the board worked with senior management to develop a detailed strategic road map for the next five years. Keeping the Promise: Canadian Blood Services’ 2019–2024 Strategic Plan will identify the key priorities we will pursue in responding to a rapidly changing health-care environment and a social, political and economic context that is constantly evolving.
The board’s strategic guidance is informed by the unique experiences and perspectives all members bring to their roles. Critical to our governance model, however, is the understanding that directors do not serve the specific interests of the constituencies that nominate them. We share a collective responsibility to advance the mission of Canadian Blood Services, taking into account the expectations of our diverse stakeholders. We serve all Canadians by providing a reliable, accessible and sustainable system for delivering the life essentials for transfusion and transplantation.
In closing, I wish to express the board’s gratitude to my predecessor as chair, Leah Hollins, for the eight years of hard work and wise counsel she contributed to Canadian Blood Services. I would also like to express our appreciation to our deputy chair, Glenda Yeates, who helped to maintain continuity during our recent transition in governance. Lastly, I want to underline the board’s continued support for our chief executive officer, Dr. Graham Sher, and the entire senior management team as they work to make this organization increasingly nimble and responsive.
The issues we face each day are complex, and there are further challenges ahead. But for everyone at Canadian Blood Services, the ultimate goal remains clear: to improve and save the lives of patients across the country who count on us to deliver our best.
Chair, Board of Directors