Lyndsay Wasser discussed the Genetic Non-Discrimination Act for 

news & knowledge 

May 2017


On May.4, this year, the Canadian government announced that the Genetic Non-Discrimination Act 2017 (‘the Act’), formerly know as Bill S-201, had received Royal Assent.

The Act places limits on requiring individuals to submit to genetic testing or disclose the results of genetic testing as a condition of:

  • providing goods or services to that individual
  • entering into or continuing a contract or agreement with that individual
  • offering or continuing specific terms or conditions in a contract or agreement with that individual. It is widely expected that such prohibitions will primarily impact the insurance industry.

The Act also amends the Canada Labour Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act, to include provisions that restrict employers from discriminating against employees or taking any adverse action with respect to them on the basis of the results of genetic tests or because the employee refuses to undergo a genetic test or disclose the results of a genetic test.

Lyndsay Wasser, partner at McMillan LLP, told, even if employees agree to undergo a genetic test, or to disclose the results to their employer, the Act imposes limits on an employer’s ability to use or disclose such information.

“An employer could not engage in discrimination on the basis of genetic test results, [for example] refuse to hire a person or terminate his/her employment on the basis that genetic testing [has revealed] that he/she has a high probability of developing a condition that may be inconvenient or expensive for the employer to accommodate,” she said.

Representatives of the insurance industry and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have both questioned the constitutionality of most of the provisions of the Act, on the basis that regulation of the insurance industry falls within the Constitutional jurisdiction of the provinces, not the Federal government.

To read Genetic Non-Discrimination Act “limits an employer’s ability” to use genetic information go to