Labile blood components, i.e. those blood components collected, produced and distributed by Canadian blood suppliers, are a vital resource supporting health care in Canada. The supply of these resources could be compromised by a number of external threats that may include but are not limited to, labour disruptions, endemic disease outbreaks, extreme weather disturbances or disruptions in transportation systems. In times of severe shortages, the allocation of blood components could present a significant challenge to the provision of health care. To prepare for such a challenge, the Canadian Blood Services (CBS) Provincial/Territorial (P/T) Blood Liaison Committee asked the National Advisory Committee on Blood and Blood Products (NAC) to develop a framework to determine the equitable allocation of labile blood components in times of severe shortage. In response to that request NAC, in collaboration with CBS, produced a draft framework document which was then widely circulated among potential stakeholders for comment, and then revised, taking into consideration the comments received. This document, the National Plan for the Management of Shortages of Labile Blood Components (hereafter called the Plan), which was first implemented in late 2009, is the recommended framework developed through that process.