Genetic Non-Discrimination Act (GNA)
The decision to pursue genetic testing is a highly personal one. There are many reasons why an individual may choose to, or choose not to, have genetic testing. Thanks to the new Genetic Non-Discrimination Act (GNA), Canadians are now able to make this personal decision without fear of the potential implications for insurance and employment discrimination. This removes a major barrier to the appropriate use of genetic and genomic services by the public, and is a huge step forward for patients, families and the field of genetic medicine in Canada.
On May 4, 2017 the Genetic Non-Discrimination Act (GNA), formerly known as Bill S-201, was passed into law in Canada.
The GNA protects individuals from the use of genetic test results in areas outside of medical care and medical research, such as insurance and employment. This law makes it illegal for an insurer to require a person to undergo genetic testing, or to disclose the results of previous genetic tests, as a condition of the insurer’s providing or continuing coverage.
The Canadian Association of Genetic Counsellors (CAGC) has published a fact sheet about the GNA and what it means for patients and providers.
The new legislation overrides the longstanding Industry Code on Genetic Testing Information for Insurance Underwriting. Most Canadian insurers should immediately adjust their practices in accordance with the new law, including not discussing genetic tests with clients or document results of genetic tests. Even if the client provides genetic test information unasked, the insurer should not take it into consideration since the passing of the new legislation on May 4.