Federally-regulated employers may soon be seeing changes to
privacy and human rights laws in relation to genetic information.
On June 9, 2015, the federal Minister of Justice introduced Bill
C-68, otherwise known as the Protection Against Genetic
Discrimination Act. The bill is aimed at better protecting
persons' genetic information in Canada. The latest version of
the bill can be found here.
Bill C-68 will clarify the law relating to the use, collection,
and disclosure of genetic information by amending three pieces of
federal legislation: the Canadian Human Rights Act, the Personal
Information Protection and Electronic Document Act (PIPEDA) and the
Privacy Act. The bill proposes an amendment to the Canadian Human
Rights Act that will prohibit discrimination based on genetic test
results. In addition, it clarifies that genetic testing information
qualifies as "personal information" protected by the
Privacy Act and PIPEDA.
Further discussion of the proposed changes and their effects on
the legislation identified above can be found in the
government's press release here.
If and when Bill C-68 becomes law, the contemplated amendments
to the legislation noted above will have the effect of expanding
federal employers' responsibility and potential liability when
collecting, using and disclosing genetic information – from
candidates for employment, to employees, to the customers and
clients they serve.
While Bill C-68 itself may die on the table with the anticipated
federal election this fall, further revision to federal government
policies and consultation with provincial and territorial
governments and industry to encourage similar changes in those
jurisdictions is also expected. We will be sure to keep you updated
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