Canadian Red Cross

The Canadian Red Cross Society (French: La Société canadienne de la Croix-Rouge)[1] is a Canadian humanitarian charitable organization, and one of 192 national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies. The organization receives funding from both private donations and from Canadian government departments.[2]

The Canadian Red Cross Society
Canadian Red Cross.svg
TypeCharitable organization[1]
HeadquartersOttawa, Ontario, Canada
The Governor General of Canada

The Canadian Red Cross trains volunteers in emergency response, disaster response, and disaster assistance, and provides injury prevention services such as outdoor activities safety and first aid training. The society, through the international network of the Red Cross, helps the world's vulnerable populations, including victims of armed conflicts and communities destroyed by disasters.[3] The Canadian Red Cross also handled the Canadian blood supply, until that responsibility was taken away from them in the aftermath of the tainted blood scandal.

The current Secretary General and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Red Cross is Conrad Sauvé.


Volunteers from Canadian Red Cross assemble packages for prisoners of war during the Second World War.

The Canadian Red Cross was established in the fall of 1896 as an affiliate of the British Red Cross Society (then known as the National Society for Aid to the Sick and Wounded in War). George Ryerson, who had founded Canada's St. John Ambulance Association in 1895, spearheaded the organization's founding.[4] The Canadian Red Cross Society Act (1909) legally established the Red Cross as the corporate body in Canada responsible for providing volunteer aid in accordance with the Geneva Conventions.

The first international activity of the Canadian Red Cross was treating the sick and wounded in South Africa during the Boer War.[4]

After the end of World War I in 1918, the Society began training public health nurses.[5][6] A children's program designed to promote healthy living, the Junior Red Cross, was set up in schools across Canada.[7]

For many years the Canadian Red Cross was responsible for collecting human blood from donors for medical use.[8] The Ottawa Branch of Canadian Blood Services operated from a building on Metcalf Street which was donated by Mary Alice Danner in memory of Flight Sergeant William Dewey Hagyard R.C.A.F. who was missing in action in WWII. The branch later relocated to Plymouth Street.[9] In 1998, after serious flaws in the blood collection process were uncovered, the Society stopped providing this service.[10]

The Canadian Red Cross had its centennial celebration in May 2009.[11]

In 2017 the Red Cross provided food, shelter and medicine to asylum seekers crossing the border into Canada from the United States.[12]

Programs in CanadaEdit

Cambridge Canadian Red Cross Centre

Emergencies and disastersEdit

The Canadian Red Cross provides assistance to Canadians experiencing an emergency or disaster. The organization works in partnership with government, first responders, emergency management, and other organizations to support their response activities. They also provide assistance for people's basic needs, which includes: family reunification, lodging, reception and information, food, clothing, and personal services, such as first aid, temporary care for children or elderly, and other support.[13][14] [15]

Community health servicesEdit

Community support servicesEdit

The Canadian Red Cross offers a range of community support services that provide daily supports to older adults, vulnerable people, and their caregivers. The goal of these programs is to provide support in maintaining quality of life, independence, and active participation in society. Some of the programs and services available include: nutrition support programs (such as Meals on Wheels), social inclusion programs, assisted living in supportive housing and attendant outreach services, safety programs, and transportation. The availability of these programs varies.[16] The Red Cross also provides services to homeless people during extreme weather.[17]

Health Equipment Loan Program (HELP)Edit

This program provides health equipment to individuals dealing with illness or injury, enabling them to return home from the hospital sooner or live more independently. The program operates in British Columbia, Alberta, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Yukon Territory. The types of assistive equipment that can be provided include: wheelchairs, walkers, bath seats and benches, commodes and toilet seats, crutches and canes, bed handles, and other durable medical equipment. The program is funded through financial donations as well as through the donation of used medical equipment, diverting it from the landfill, and it carried out with the support of volunteers and the health authorities.[18]

Home care servicesEdit

The Canadian Red Cross offers personal support and homemaking services to support the independent living of seniors and those recovering from illness or injury. These services include: personal care, home management, and respite and companion care. Home care services are available in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Ontario.[19]

Migrant and refugee servicesEdit

The Canadian Red Cross has been involved in the independent monitoring of detention facilities holding immigration detainees since 1999, following a request from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). The organization provides independent monitoring to determine if detainees are treated humanely and their human rights and inherent dignity are respected. As of 2014, this includes visiting federal immigration holding facilities and some provincial correctional facilities in Québéc, Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, and Manitoba.[20]

Safety, first aid, and CPREdit

The Canadian Red Cross is involved in treating the wounded on the fields of war and to training individuals to effectively handle emergencies both at home and in the workplace. The organization has been offering first aid and CPR training to Canadians for over 50 years. In an average year, about 600,000 Canadians are trained.[3]

In 1946 the Red Cross Swimming and Water Safety programs were introduced as a result of a large number of drownings that occurred in Canada in the 1940s.[21] Since then, more than 30 million Canadians, in more than 3,500 communities across Canada were to taught to swim and stay safe around water.

In 2012, The Canadian Red Cross and The Royal Life Saving Society of Canada joined forces with the Public Health Agency of Canada to launch the Open Water Wisdom initiative, which is a community water activity safety program which promotes awareness of water safety issues nationally, including to remote communities across Canada.[22]

International programsEdit

Emergencies and disastersEdit

The Canadian Red Cross delivers primary healthcare programs, relief supplies, water, and sanitation and shelter solutions to vulnerable communities affected by conflict, disasters, and health emergencies. The Society's international programming supports community-based programs that provide large-scale humanitarian aid.[23]

International developmentEdit

The Canadian Red Cross has long-term development programs in the regions of Africa, the Americas, Asia, and the Middle East and North Africa.[24]

Maternal, newborn, and child healthEdit

The Canadian Red Cross supports community-based health programs which address preventable illness in mothers and children, including malaria, pneumonia, diarrhea, and malnutrition, particularly in remote areas where there is a lack of health services and emergencies where health services have collapsed. They also provide education about reproduction, newborn care and breastfeeding, nutrition for young children, hygiene, sanitation, and methods of accessing potable water.[25][26]


Krever CommissionEdit

Until September 28, 1998, the Canadian Red Cross was responsible for all blood services in Canada. On the recommendation of the Krever Commission, the organization was removed from this position and replaced by the Canadian Blood Services. This was due to nationwide controversy when it was revealed that the Canadian Red Cross had supplied, between 1986 and 1990, blood which it knew might be tainted with Hepatitis C and HIV.[27]

In 1994, an investigation found that 95 percent of hemophiliacs who used blood products supplied by the Canadian Red Cross prior to 1990 had contracted Hepatitis C.[28] According to the Krever Commission, approximately 85 percent of those infections could have been prevented. Compared to blood services in Europe and the United States, the CRC was slow to disseminate information about possible infection to those receiving blood products.[29] More than 1,100 Canadians were infected with HIV and 20,000 contracted Hepatitis C from blood transfusions given by the Red Cross during that period.[30]

The Canadian Red Cross was fined $5,000 for its role in the tainted blood scandal and the organization agreed to plead guilty to distributing a contaminated drug. It agreed to donate $1.5 million to the University of Ottawa for a research endowment fund, as well as a scholarship for the family members of those affected. In exchange, six criminal charges against the Canadian Red Cross were dropped.[28]

Dr. Roger Perrault, the director of the Canadian Red Cross at the time, was put on trial for his role in the scandal. The first trial, in Toronto before the Superior Court of Justice, resulted in an acquittal. He had been charged with four counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm and one of common nuisance. The counts of criminal negligence were specific to four victims who had contracted HIV from tainted blood. The second trial, in Hamilton, also before the Superior Court of Justice, resulted in charges being withdrawn. The charges were six counts of common nuisance and "stemmed from an allegation he endangered the public by failing to properly screen donors, implement testing for blood-borne viruses and warn the public of the danger regarding hepatitis C and HIV" and relate to a period of time in which the understanding of AIDS was even more rudimentary. The charges were withdrawn on the basis that there was no longer a reasonable prospect of conviction.[31]

Investigation into alleged 2004 Indian tsunami worker abuseEdit

An investigation conducted by Radio-Canada (CBC) first aired on March 17, 2010 on The National. It reported on the problems facing workers hired by Canadian Red Cross contractors during an effort to rebuild communities in the Indonesian province of Aceh.[32]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b The Canadian Red Cross Society, Charities Directorate – Government of Canada.
  2. ^ Brian H. Smith (14 July 2014). More Than Altruism: The Politics of Private Foreign Aid. Princeton University Press. p. 30. ISBN 978-1-4008-6095-1.
  3. ^ a b Fiona Duguid; Karsten Mündel; Daniel Schugurensky (12 June 2013). Volunteer Work, Informal Learning and Social Action. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 64. ISBN 978-94-6209-233-4.
  4. ^ a b Jonathan F. Vance (1 November 2011). Objects of Concern: Canadian Prisoners of War Through the Twentieth Century. UBC Press. p. 11. ISBN 978-0-7748-4279-2.
  5. ^ Neil Sutherland; Cynthia Comacchio (1 January 2006). Children in English-Canadian Society: Framing the Twentieth-Century Consensus. Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press. p. 85. ISBN 978-0-88920-589-5.
  6. ^ Janet C. Ross-Kerr; Janet C. Kerr (1998). Prepared to Care: Nurses and Nursing in Alberta, 1859 to 1996. University of Alberta. p. 81. ISBN 978-0-88864-292-9.
  7. ^ Loren Lerner (20 May 2009). Depicting Canada's Children. Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press. pp. 281–283. ISBN 978-1-55458-285-3.
  8. ^ C.Th. Smit Sibinga; P.C. Das; S. Seidl (6 December 2012). Plasma Fractionation and Blood Transfusion: Proceedings of the Ninth Annual Symposium on Blood Transfusion, Groningen, 1984, organized by the Red Cross Blood Bank Groningen-Drenthe. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 33. ISBN 978-1-4613-2631-1.
  9. ^ 'Red Cross House' Archived 2014-05-17 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Institute of Medicine; Forum on Blood Safety and Blood Availability (19 July 1996). Blood Banking and Regulation: Procedures, Problems, and Alternatives. National Academies Press. p. 31. ISBN 978-0-309-05546-8.
  11. ^ Centennial celebration Archived 2009-12-15 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "Watch aerial video of the Quebec border where asylum seekers are crossing". CBC News, Aug 15, 2017
  13. ^ Daniel Henstra (1 October 2013). Multilevel Governance and Emergency Management in Canadian Municipalities. MQUP. p. 11. ISBN 978-0-7735-8954-4.
  14. ^ "Red Cross evacuating northern Manitoba First Nation". CBC News, Aug 23, 2017, Laura Glowacki
  15. ^ "Canadian Red Cross emergencies and disasters".
  16. ^ "Community Support Services". Canadian Red Cross. Retrieved February 27, 2017.
  17. ^ "Two warming centres to open under extreme cold warning". South Bayview Bulldog, January 4, 2018
  18. ^ "Health Equipment Loan Program". Canadian Red Cross. Retrieved February 27, 2017.
  19. ^ "Home Care Services". Canadian Red Cross. Retrieved February 27, 2017.
  20. ^ Amy Nethery; Stephanie J Silverman (24 April 2015). Immigration Detention: The migration of a policy and its human impact. Routledge. p. 85. ISBN 978-1-317-61391-6.
  21. ^ The Canada Year Book. Census and Statistics Office. 1947. p. 207.
  22. ^ "Canada's north plagued by drownings". Saskatchewan Star-Phoenix, August 25, 2012. Michele Zilio"
  23. ^ "Emergencies and Disasters Worldwide". Canadian Red Cross. Retrieved February 27, 2017.
  24. ^ "International Development". Canadian Red Cross. Retrieved February 27, 2017.
  25. ^ "Maternal, Newborn and Child Health". Canadian Red Cross. Retrieved February 27, 2017.
  26. ^ pro. "Our Contributions to Maternal, Newborn and Child Health". Canadian Red Cross. Retrieved February 27, 2017.
  27. ^ | Red Cross knew about hep-C test in '81: memo Archived August 30, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  28. ^ a b "Canada's tainted blood scandal: A timeline". CBC News. October 1, 2007. Archived from the original on October 26, 2012.
  29. ^ John E. Thomas; Wilfrid J. Waluchow; Elisabeth Gedge (11 July 2014). Well and Good - Fourth Edition: A Case Study Approach to Health Care Ethics. Broadview Press. p. 114. ISBN 978-1-4604-0245-0.
  30. ^ "Tainted blood trial set to start". CBC News. February 6, 2006. Archived from the original on November 13, 2012.
  31. ^ "Charges dropped in tainted-blood probe | Toronto Star". Retrieved 2017-02-27.
  32. ^ "Red Cross tsunami workers abused". Retrieved 2017-05-08.

External linksEdit