Prior to May 2017, the genetic test information of Canadians was not protected. On May 4, 2017, the Genetic Non-Discrimination Act (GNA) received Royal Assent and was passed into law. This historic law, which passed 3rd reading in the House of Commons by a vote of 222 to 60 in May 2017, enabled all people living in Canada the opportunity to make informed life decisions regarding health and reproduction, without fear of genetic discrimination. This legislation also enabled Canada to remain as a leader in genomic research and has already helped to alleviate the fears of Canadians, encouraging participation in genomics research and clinical trials. All Canadians deserve the right to proactively manage their own health and advance medicine without the fear of genetic discrimination. The Genetic Non-Discrimination Act alleviated that fear and removed barriers, by protecting genetic test information.
In late December, 2018 the Quebec Court of Appeal gave its opinion that the Genetic Non-Discrimination Act (GNA) does not constitute a valid exercise of Parliament’s criminal law power. The Quebec opinion is a step backwards at a time when we should be increasing the protection of our genetic information at federal, provincial and territorial levels. Genetic discrimination is an important issue in Canada and a barrier to science, medicine and the health and well being of people living in Canada. The Genetic Non-Discrimination Act addresses this problem and protects the genetic test information for the benefit of all Canadians. It is important to note that the Quebec Court of Appeal just provided an advisory opinion on the specific questions referred to them, however, this opinion does put the Genetic Non-Discrimination Act at risk. The CCGF is exploring all options as we move forward with our lawyers.