Dr. Ken Fyke spoke on the tainted blood scandal that impacted the Canadian blood supply during the 1980's.
During the period, three million people received transfusions that were potentially tainted.  2,000 contracted HIV and 30,000 contracted Hepatitis-C from these transfusions, and 8,000 died. It became the worst-ever preventable public health issue.
The issue was complex but at the root of the scandal was a handful of decisions and non-decisions by the administrators and regulators of Canada’s blood system.
The system had been failing to meet demand, resulting in (1) a failure to implement processes to deal with high-risk donors (2) continued importation of blood products from US prisons (3) continued use of existing inventories in spite of the known risk of contamination
The system was underfunded, resulting in a delay in implementing HIV testing and delays in building a nationwide network of blood-processing labs.
And the stubborn refusal by the Red Cross and the regulatory bodies (federal and provincial) to take responsibility for the system.
The scandal caused the formation of the Krever Commission (1993-97). As a result the Red Cross was separated from the blood system and a new entity created – Canadian Blood Services. This new entity was guided by a Board of Directors with broader representation (including the medical, scientific and business communities) and consumer-interest representation. Dr. Fyke was the first Chair of the Board.
The transition process was costly, when compared to its underfunded predecessor, which had also cost so many lives and about $1 billion in liability claims. Notwithstanding the political challenges, public expectation certainly supported a new system that was fundamentally guided the desire for a safe and reliable blood supply system.
Dr. Fyke referenced the significant volume by Andre Picard – The Gift of Death