Federally-regulated employers may soon be seeing changes to privacy and human rights laws in relation to genetic information. On June 9, 2015, the federal Minister of Justice introduced Bill C-68, otherwise known as the Protection Against Genetic Discrimination Act. The bill is aimed at better protecting persons’ genetic information in Canada. The latest version of the bill can be found here.

Bill C-68 will clarify the law relating to the use, collection, and disclosure of genetic information by amending three pieces of federal legislation: the Canadian Human Rights Act, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Document Act (PIPEDA) and the Privacy Act. The bill proposes an amendment to the Canadian Human Rights Act that will prohibit discrimination based on genetic test results. In addition, it clarifies that genetic testing information qualifies as “personal information” protected by the Privacy Act and PIPEDA.

Further discussion of the proposed changes and their effects on the legislation identified above can be found in the government’s press release here.

If and when Bill C-68 becomes law, the contemplated amendments to the legislation noted above will have the effect of expanding federal employers’ responsibility and potential liability when collecting, using and disclosing genetic information – from candidates for employment, to employees, to the customers and clients they serve.

While Bill C-68 itself may die on the table with the anticipated federal election this fall, further revision to federal government policies and consultation with provincial and territorial governments and industry to encourage similar changes in those jurisdictions is also expected. We will be sure to keep you updated on developments.