19 June 2024
Genetic discrimination law Canada has loopholes

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Genetic discrimination law in Canada has loopholes, study finds. As Canadians share more and more genetic data with service providers such as insurance companies or databases like Ancestry.com, the potential for discrimination based on this data is growing. Known as genetic discrimination (GD), this practice is broadly defined as the differential treatment of an individual compared to the rest of the population based on actual or presumed genetic information. Although the Genetic Non-Discrimination Act (GNDA) was passed in 2017 to protect Canadians from GD, a team at the Centre of Genomics and Policy of McGill University has found that many life insurance companies have found ways to circumvent these rules.

Genetic Discrimination Law in Canada: A Looming Threat Despite Legal Protections



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Introduction

As we delve into the realm of genetic testing and data sharing, the potential for genetic discrimination looms large. This practice, known as genetic discrimination (GD), involves treating individuals differently based on their genetic information, whether actual or perceived. While Canada has taken steps to address this issue with the Genetic Non-Discrimination Act (GNDA) in 2017, recent findings suggest that life insurance companies may be circumventing these regulations.

GNDA: A Step Forward, Yet Incomplete

The GNDA was enacted to safeguard Canadians against GD. It criminalizes the requirement of genetic testing or test results as a condition for accessing goods or services. However, a study conducted by McGill University’s Centre of Genomics and Policy reveals that many life insurance companies have found ways to bypass these restrictions.

Insurance Companies’ Tactics

The study analyzed life insurance application forms before and after the GNDA’s implementation. It found that insurers employ broadly phrased questions that allow them to collect genetic information indirectly. This approach skirts the specific prohibitions of the law and can mislead applicants into disclosing genetic test results, even when their use is prohibited.

Unintended Consequences

The GNDA’s shortcomings have raised concerns about its effectiveness in preventing GD. Unscrupulous insurance providers may still access genetic information directly or indirectly, potentially leading to unfair treatment of individuals based on their genetic makeup.

Moving Forward: A Call for Comprehensive Protection

The study underscores the need for a more comprehensive framework to protect genetic data and prevent GD. This framework should include:

– Clear and enforceable regulations to prevent insurers from accessing genetic information through indirect means.

– Enhanced public awareness about GD and the importance of genetic privacy.

– Provincial-level policies to complement the GNDA and address gaps in the federal law.

Conclusion

The GNDA represents a significant step in combating GD, but more needs to be done to ensure its effectiveness. A comprehensive approach involving stronger regulations, public education, and provincial-level initiatives is crucial to eliminate GD and protect the rights of individuals in Canada.

FAQ’s

1. What is genetic discrimination (GD)?

Genetic discrimination (GD) is the unequal treatment of individuals based on their genetic information, whether actual or perceived.

2. How does the Genetic Non-Discrimination Act (GNDA) address GD?

The GNDA prohibits life insurance companies from requiring genetic testing or test results as a condition for accessing goods or services.

3. How do life insurance companies circumvent the GNDA’s restrictions?

Some life insurance companies use broadly phrased questions on application forms to indirectly collect genetic information from individuals.

4. What are the unintended consequences of the GNDA’s shortcomings?

Insurance providers may still access genetic information directly or indirectly, potentially leading to unfair treatment of individuals based on their genetic makeup.

5. What are some proposed measures to address the limitations of the GNDA and prevent GD?

Proposed measures include clearer regulations, enhanced public awareness about GD and genetic privacy, and provincial-level policies to complement the GNDA.

Links to additional Resources:

1. https://www.mcgill.ca/genomicsandpolicy/news/genetic-discrimination-canada-despite-new-federal-law 2. https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/csj-sjc/rfc-dlc/ccrf-ccdl/check.html 3. https://www.priv.gc.ca/en/privacy-topics/genetic-testing-and-privacy/genetic-discrimination/

Related Wikipedia Articles

Topics: Genetic discrimination, Genetic Non-Discrimination Act (GNDA), Insurance companies tactics

Genetic discrimination
Genetic discrimination occurs when people treat others (or are treated) differently because they have or are perceived to have a gene mutation(s) that causes or increases the risk of an inherited disorder. It may also refer to any and all discrimination based on the genotype of a person rather than...
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Joseph Arvay
Joseph James Arvay, (March 18, 1949 – December 7, 2020) was a Canadian lawyer who argued numerous landmark cases involving civil liberties and constitutional rights.
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Mercury General Corporation is a multiple-line insurance organization that offers personal automobile, homeowners, renters, and business insurance. Founded in 1961 and located in Los Angeles, Mercury has assets of over $4 billion, employs 4,500 people, and more than 8,000 independent agents in Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey,...
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