Up until recently, Canada was "the only industrialized country in the world that does not have a national public cord blood bank", in the words of MP Paul Szabo. But as Canada's ethnic diversity has grown, it has become more urgent to establish a national reservoir of donated cord blood that can provide matches for transplant patients with unusual genetic types. For example, in 2010 more than 800 Canadian patients were seeking stem cell transplants, but less than half found matches among adult donors. It costs the Canadian healthcare system about $37,000 for each cord blood unit that is imported from public banks in other countries.
On 14 March 2011, the Canadian Parliament passed Bill C-630 to establish a national public cord blood bank. The bank will be named "OneMatch" and will be managed by the Canadian Blood Services. The program will be developed over an 8 year period with $36 million from the provinces of Canada (with the exception of Quebec) and $12.5 million raised from donations. The funding will enable Canadian Blood Services to build a new cord blood laboratory in Ottawa and to establish collection sites in major population centers. An existing public cord blood bank, that has operated since 1996 at Alberta Cord Blood Bank in Edmonton, will also join the program. The goal of the program is to achieve an inventory of at least 20,000 public cord blood units.
The new OneMatch cord blood lab is scheduled to open in spring of 2013. OneMatch is also setting up partnerships with hospitals that will collect cord blood donations. A donation location in Ottawa should be established by April 2013. Coming in 2014, hospitals should be selected in Vancouver, Toronto, and Edmonton.
Meanwhile, in Quebec the agency Héma-Québec in Montréal has been collecting cord blood donations since 2004 and currently has over a half dozen partner hospitals. Héma-Québec currently (Feb. 2013) has an inventory of 6589 public cord blood units listed on BMDW and has released 18 transplants.
Canada also has 8 family cord blood banks, many with state-of-the-art laboratories, that can be found near Montreal, Toronto, Edmonton, and Vancouver.
Health Canada is the national agency which governs the Safety of Human Cells, Tissues and Organs for Transplantation. Canada follows the EU system of treating blood and tissue alike, unlike the US where blood and tissue are regulated differently. Health Canada has partnered with the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), Canada's leading developer of standards and codes, to develop standards for the use of human cells, tissues, and organs for transplantation and assisted reproduction purposes. All cord blood banks operating in Canada are required to follow the guidelines from Health Canada and CSA.