Statement - Supreme Court decision a human rights victory for protection from genetic discrimination
July 10, 2020 – Ottawa, Ontario – Canadian Human Rights Commission
Following today’s Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling over the constitutionality of the Genetic Non-Discrimination Act, Marie-Claude Landry, Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, issues the following statement:
“Today is a victory for the human rights and privacy of all Canadians. The Canadian Human Rights Commission applauds today’s Supreme Court of Canada decision affirming the constitutionality of the 2017 Genetic Non-Discrimination Act. This means that discrimination against a person because of their genetic makeup remains illegal across the country, and that people in Canada do not have to live in fear of how their genetic information could one day be used against them.
“For years, the Canadian Human Rights Commission has joined the voices of other advocates in calling for stronger protections at all levels of Canada’s governments against the harms of genetic discrimination.
“Genetic research and the uses of genetic information is a quickly evolving area of science, with already proven benefits. But we have yet to fully understand the vast implications and potential risks. As the technology develops, human rights and privacy rights must develop along with it.
“A person’s decision to take a genetic test that could save their life should not be a calculated risk. It should not come at the price of not being hired, of not being able to adopt a child, travel, get insurance, or access health care. People in Canada should not have to be afraid that the very technology meant to help them may one day be used against them, or their children.
“While today’s ruling is reassuring to people across Canada who need the benefits of a genetic test, there is still work to be done. Since 2017, the Canadian Human Rights Act offers added protection against genetic discrimination under federal jurisdiction. We will continue to encourage provincial and territorial governments to make similar improvements to their own human rights legislation. In addition, we urge Parliament to affirm privacy as a human right in Canada. A human rights approach to privacy law reform in this country is needed to address emerging concerns about how technology and the digital world are increasingly affecting our everyday lives.
“Technology and privacy are fundamental to the next generation of human rights. Everyone in Canada should be able to benefit from technology without fear. Today’s ruling is a critical step in the right direction.”
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Daniel Therrien, Privacy Commissioner of Canada also issued a statement following the ruling