Canadian Red Cross

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Canadian Red Cross
Charitable organization
Founded 1896
Headquarters Ottawa, Ontario
Revenue 360,946,000 CAD (2014)[1]

The Canadian Red Cross Society is a Canadian humanitarian charitable organization and one of 189 national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, as well as an Non-Governmental Organization (NGO). The mission of the Canadian Red Cross is to improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity in Canada and around the world. The Society is increasing its disaster volunteer services by training several volunteers in Personal Disaster Assistance (PDA), Emergency Response Team (ERT) and Disaster Response Team (DRT) capacities. They also provide 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 most vulnerable populations, including victims of armed conflicts and communities destroyed by devastating disasters. The current Secretary General and Chief Executive Officer is Conrad Sauvé.


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

It 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). Colonel Dr. George Ryerson spearheaded the organization's founding; he was earlier responsible for setting up Canada's St. John Ambulance Association in 1895. 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. It is a national society and member of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. The Movement includes the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (Federation). The Canadian Red Cross had its centennial celebration in May 2009.[2]

Mrs. Mary Alice Danner of Perth, Ontario donated a building, later known as 'Red Cross House' at 237 Metcalfe Street to the Ottawa Branch of the Canadian Red Cross Society for blood donor services and other Red Cross activities in memory of Flight Sergeant William Dewey Hagyard R.C.A.F. who was missing in action February 11, 1942. The Ottawa branch of Blood Services Canada later relocated to Plymouth Street, in Ottawa[3]

Guiding Principles

i) Seven Fundamental Principles

All of the Canadian Red Cross staff and volunteers are guided by the seven fundamental principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement:

• Humanity • Impartiality • Neutrality • Independence • Voluntary Service • Unity • Universality

Programs in Canada[edit]

Cambridge Canadian Red Cross

The Canadian Red Cross has local branches in every province and territory in Canada. In addition, many authorized providers throughout Canada offer the following programs:

  • Disaster Management

-Assist people affected by emergencies and disasters (for the first 72 hours) -Work with governments and humanitarian organizations

The Canadian Red Cross plans for the unexpected by building relationships with local governments and other agencies to ensure that appropriate supplies and expertise are available when and where they are needed. From house fires and power outages to floods and hurricanes, you’ll find our disaster experts on site with trained volunteers ready to help the vulnerable. The vital assistance provided by the Canadian Red Cross includes emergency lodging, food, and clothing.

  • Family Links

Assist people in re-establishing contact with immediate family members after separation due to war, disaster or other crises. For large-scale disasters, the Canadian Red Cross sends an advance delegation team to assess both immediate and long-term support requirements, including relief supplies, health care units, technical experts, and aid workers. Further, given the importance of family in times of distress, we work to reunite families separated by disasters, conflicts, and emergencies through the “Restoring Family Links” program.

Community Health and Wellness in Canada and Abroad

i) Community Health and Wellness in Canada

The Canadian Red Cross supports the physical and emotional health of vulnerable Canadians and those who care for them by providing proactive and compassionate services. In particular, Canadian seniors who wish to live at home in a safe and dignified manner receive home care, health equipment on loan, and the delivery of hot meals.

ii) Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health Abroad

Internationally, our health projects focus primarily on mothers and children—often the most vulnerable to disease, malnutrition, and poverty. By providing mothers and children in 20 countries around the world with basic health care, otherwise unavailable to them, the Canadian Red Cross significantly reduces the number of preventable deaths in children under the age of five.

  • First Aid & CPR

The Canadian Red Cross plays a key role in health and safety. In an average year, more than 600,000 Canadians were trained in first aid and CPR so that lives can be saved before an ambulance arrives. The organization is involved in treating the wounded on the fields of war and to training individuals to more effectively handle emergencies both at home and in the workplace.

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. 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.

  • RespectED: Violence & Abuse Prevention

The Canadian Red Cross delivers online workshops and in-person training programs in schools, workplaces, community centres, places of worship, and other types of organizations to help raise awareness and prevent violence, bullying, and abuse.

  • Health Equipment Loan Programs (HELP)

-Loan a variety of assistive devices at affordable and appropriate loan terms, so individuals won’t have to purchase items for each health episode

  • Meals on Wheels

-Program delivers hot, nutritious meals to persons who are unable to attend to their own nutritional needs

  • Youth Training in Action Program (Youth TAP)
  • Humanitarian Issues Program (HIP)

-Focus on the promotion of humanitarian values and international humanitarian law (IHL) through educational activities and campaigns. The Canadian Red Cross works with partners around the world to build respect for international humanitarian law—the body of rules that protects people affected by, but not directly participating in, armed conflicts. International humanitarian law regulates the treatment of casualties and prisoners of war, and prohibits attacks against civilians and medical personnel.

  • Philanthropy

-Lead the planning and implementation of RC province-wide initiatives and assist with other approved campaigns.

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 dedicated to bringing awareness to recreational water safety issues nationally and in hundreds of remote communities across Canada.[4][5]

Krever Commission[edit]

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 because of the nationwide controversy when it was revealed that between 1986 and 1990 it had supplied tainted blood to patients despite knowing of a test that might have detected the infection in some cases.[6] In 1994, an investigation found that 95 percent of hemophiliacs who used blood products supplied by the Canadian Red Cross before 1990 had contracted Hepatitis C.[7] According to the Krever Commission, approximately 85 percent of those infections could have been avoided.

More than 1100 Canadians were infected with HIV and 20,000 contracted Hepatitis C from blood transfusions given by the Red Cross during that period.[8]

The Canadian Red Cross was fined $5,000 for its role in the tainted blood scandal and agreed to plead guilty to distributing a contaminated drug. It agreed to give 1.5 million dollars to the University of Ottawa for a research endowment fund as well as a scholarship for family members of those affected. In exchange, six criminal charges against the Red Cross were dropped.[7]

The then-director of the Red Cross, Dr. Roger Perrault, was on trial for his role in the scandal. The first trial resulted in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice acquitting him on charges of criminal negligence causing bodily harm and six criminal nuisance charges were dropped in January 2008 when "there no longer remains a reasonable prospect of conviction in this case".[9]

Investigation into alleged 2004 Indian Tsunami worker abuse[edit]

An investigation conducted by Radio-Canada (CBC), first aired on March 17, 2010 on The National, reports on the problems facing workers that were hired by contractors, under contract from the Canadian Red Cross, to rebuild communities in the Indonesian province of Aceh.[10]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]