Torys insight featured in media coverage of Genetic Non-Discrimination Act ruling

July 28, 2020

A Torys analysis of the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling in Reference re Genetic Non‑Discrimination Act has been referenced in media coverage focusing on the insurance aspect of the development. Torys acted for the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA), an intervenor in this case.

The SCC ultimately upheld sections 1 to 7 of the Genetic Non-Discrimination Act as a valid exercise of the federal criminal law power. As reported by Advisor’s Edge and, through syndication, Investment Executive, one of the outcomes of the ruling will be that “[i]nsurers can’t request that clients undergo genetic testing or share genetic testing results.”

In detailing the impact of this decision for the insurance industry, the article comments that it is a “good reminder for insurance advisors to carefully consider the questions they pose to clients”.

The article continues, “[p]assed in 2017, the act forbids insurers (and other companies) from requiring clients to undergo genetic testing before buying insurance (or other services). Companies also can’t ask for existing genetic test results. To do so is a criminal offence.”

In its reporting, Advisor’s Edge referenced the Torys piece “Genetic discrimination: it’s criminal!” to articulate some of the key issues in the ruling. 

An excerpt of the article is below.

In a blog post, Torys LLP noted that legislation in every province requires prospective clients to disclose any information that’s material to their insurance.

“Failing to disclose or misrepresenting this information renders the contract voidable by the insurer,” Torys said. “The courts will have to work out how the act affects this fundamental principle of insurance law.”

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