Canadas new genetic privacy law is causing huge headaches for Justin Trudeau

first_img Email Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country By Wayne KondroMar. 10, 2017 , 6:00 PM Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Those arguments, however, failed to sway lawmakers. On 9 March, members of Parliament voted 222–60 to approve the measure. More than 100 Liberal members voted for the bill, taking advantage of a so-called free vote, which allows members to vote their conscience rather follow the party line.The vote was applauded by Bev Heim-Myers, chair of the Canadian Coalition for Genetic Fairness in Kitchener, which represents 18 disease-based organizations. “Finally, the voices of Canadians, and the voices of science and medicine, were heard,” she says.The result has prompted Trudeau’s government to consider extraordinary measures to block the legislation. Normally, the bill would become law once it is approved by Canada’s governor-general (and in this case, after Canada’s Senate approves a minor amendment requested by the House of Commons). The governor-general, who represents the queen of England, is a holdover from Canada’s past as a British colony, and typically rubber stamps legislation passed by Parliament.To delay and potentially kill the legislation, Trudeau’s government is considering not sending the bill to the governor-general (a tactic that doesn’t appear to have been used since the 1920s), and instead asking Canada’s Supreme Court to rule on the bill’s constitutionality. That process could take up to 2 years.Cowan, the bill’s original sponsor, says he can’t fathom the rationale behind the government’s stance. “Is it really up to the government of Canada to defend provincial jurisdiction, or the insurance industry?” he asks.Prominent legal scholars are skeptical of the government’s claim that the law is unconstitutional. Canada’s Supreme Court has previously held that federal criminal law can apply to regulating food, drugs, guns, and other areas in which the goal is to mitigate so-called “social evils,” they note. And the claim that the bill infringes on provincial power to regulate insurance may not hold up, because the law applies equally to all commercial sectors. Canada’s new genetic privacy law is causing huge headaches for Justin Trudeau Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe thesis/iStockphoto A vote in Canada’s Parliament to approve a genetic privacy bill is creating a self-inflicted political headache for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government—and could result in a relatively rare and unusual court case.The Genetic Non-Discrimination Act, originally introduced in 2013 by now-retired Liberal Senator James Cowan, is aimed at preventing the use of information generated by genetic tests to deny health insurance, employment, and housing, or to influence child custody and adoption decisions. It calls for fines of up to $740,000 and prison terms of up to 5 years for anyone who requires any Canadian to undergo a genetic test, or to disclose test results, in order to obtain insurance or enter into legal or business relationships. The bill bars discrimination on the grounds of genetics, and the sharing of genetic test results without written consent (with exemptions for researchers and doctors).Supporters said the law is needed to encourage Canadians to make greater use of genetic testing. Currently, they claimed, many Canadians refuse genetic tests in the course of care or clinical trials because they fear insurers or others could use the results against them. But opponents of the bill, including health and life insurers, argued a ban would increase treatment and insurance costs. Instead, insurers support a voluntary code regulating the use of genetic tests in underwriting life insurance policies; it would allow insurers to require tests only for policies worth more than $185,500. Trudeau’s Liberal Party cabinet also formally opposed the measure, with Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould arguing that the bill is unconstitutional because it intrudes on powers given to Canada’s 13 provincial and territorial governments to regulate insurance.last_img read more