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Statement: Supreme Court of Canada ruling bolsters the privacy rights of Canadians

July 10, 2020 - Following a ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada today regarding the constitutionality of the Genetic Non-Discrimination Act, Daniel Therrien, Privacy Commissioner of Canada, issued the following statement:

We welcome today’s decision by the Supreme Court of Canada upholding the constitutionality of the Genetic Non-Discrimination Act. The Act bolsters the privacy rights of Canadians, not only in respect to their personal information, but their bodily integrity and their very dignity as human beings.

The Act affirms that people are in no way obliged to disclose their genetic test results to an employer or insurance company or any other business, nor should they feel any pressure to do so. If, on the other hand, a person wishes to disclose their results voluntarily, that person’s consent must be in writing, fully informed and freely given.

In its reasons the majority of the Court noted that the Act was aimed at protecting the important interest individuals have in deciding whether or not to access the detailed genetic information revealed by genetic testing and whether or not to share their test results with others.

The collection of personal information, including sensitive genetic information, can result in discrimination. In a time of unprecedented demand for personal data, this law is a critically important development for privacy protection.

Marie-Claude Landry, Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, also issued a statement today following the ruling.

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