Sticking to our Principles

This month our Executive Director of Human and Legal Resources had to make an unpopular decision.  But it was the right one to make.

The City has been hosting blood donor clinics at City Hall for staff. They have been very popular with staff and appreciated by the Canadian Blood Service.

We have learned that holding these clinics on City premises violates policies and legislation that protect our employees from discrimination in the workplace. This situation arises because of questions on the survey that the Canadian Blood Service uses to screen donors. 

I have to be honest. When I first heard about this situation, I was quite confused by it.

However, on serious reflection, we cannot pick and choose when we apply our policies and convenience is hardly a sufficient reason to ignore our principles.  It wasn’t convenient for men to change their attitudes towards women in the workplace several decades ago. You only have to watch an episode of Mad Men to be reminded how much attitudes in our workplaces have changed. 

For my pragmatic readers, ignoring the breach would have only led to a waste of tax dollars to cover legal costs and potential damages. Our legal advice was clear. We were in violation.

Notwithstanding the national dialogue on this issue, our first commitment is to our workplace.  I hope that Canadian Blood Services finds a way to resolve the issue with their survey as this situation is playing out at organizations across Canada. In the meantime, we need to find other ways to promote the essential and life-saving work of the Canadian Blood Service.

About Karen Farbridge

An unwavering change maker seeking a just, democratic and sustainable world.

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6 Comments on “Sticking to our Principles”

  1. Colin DeCarlo Says:

    I disagree with your statement regarding Canadian Blood Services resolving the issue with their survey. Personally, I would rather some people feel discriminated than raise the potential of tainted blood making it into the supply. As much as I support the workplace as being a safe environment, I don’t feel you can have it both ways.

  2. Steven Petric Says:

    If it was held in the open foyer and was open to the public as well as staff I feel maybe it wouldn’t be in violation. CBS and City of Toronto and Rogers HQ, for example, have blood clinics all the time that are also open to the public and any employees who wish to donate.

  3. Paul Says:

    The Canadian Blood Service survey is outdated and an ineffective means to screen potential donors.

    There is a great deal of peer pressure within the workforce to participate. Teams and contests/challenges are often created. Announcements are repeatedly made on a regular basis.

    The screening process fails to protect employees from discrimination in the workplace. An individual’s personal life may be exposed because of these donor drives.

    Blood donation is a personal issue and should be kept out of the workplace.

  4. Al van der Laan Says:

    Your Worship,

    If you wish to promote the essential and life-saving work of the Canadian Blood Services maybe you could consider offering free public transportation to the blood donors? I understand that our City Hall would never go against the legal advice but what would you do if the blood that was given to you was tainted if you needed it? Thank God we do not have to have a lawyer in the Emergency room to decide if we should accept the blood that the hospital is offering us. One of the reasons we don’t need this is because of this survey……
    Indeed – it is a service – a service you can give to your neighbour, your daughter, or someone completely unknown…..
    Also remember that donating blood is volunatry and that by doing this you have to adhere to the rules.

  5. Ivor Wright Says:

    I am appalled at the decision made by the city lawyer regarding hosting blood donor clinics; how can it be discrimination if its voluntary. Donors are screened for health reasons both the donor’s and the recipient’s health are protected. I personally have donated for years and recently I was rejected because of a health concern and referred to my doctor and subsequently to a heart specialist and now that may well have saved my life. So donating can save lives of recipients and donors.We as Canadians have become so sensitive and afraid we might discriminate someone we lose sight of the common good. People come to this country and want to change the laws to suit them while if we go to their country you obey their laws and don’t dispute them . The meek shall inherit the earth because they will be to shy or afraid to refuse it after we have thoroghly messed it up.

  6. Lisa Says:

    I am happy to hear of City Hall’s decision. If more people spoke up, maybe CBS would update their policies rather than excluding a large portion of willing donors simply because of their sexual orientation. Being a homosexual male does not make a person a high risk in itself in this day and age. Most are responsible citizens who have healthy blood to donate. How many lives could be saved by this group alone? All blood is tested thoroughly, so why reject this group of people before even testing?

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