Standing

Undergraduate

Type of Proposal

Poster Presentation

Faculty

Faculty of Science

Faculty Sponsor

Michael Crawford

Abstract/Description of Original Work

Genetic testing is a mainstream tool for disease prevention, diagnosis, and recreational genealogy. Many countries enacted legislation to protect their citizens against genetic discrimination in labour, health, and insurance markets. Risks assumed by an individual extend to their genetic relatives non-consensually. Canada lagged other nations in developing protections via Genetic Non-Discrimination Act (GNDA). As part of a larger study, my project has centered on how the GNDA was framed by journalists, editorials, and on emerging social-media platforms.

The decade long fight to enact the GNDA was an uphill battle filled with closed-door lobbying, political-maneuvering, and legal challenges. In the earliest media coverage, federal parties supported protections: both the Conservative and Liberal Parties espoused policies to prevent genetic discrimination. Nevertheless, both parties obstructed NDP initiatives. The lack of follow-through elicited speculation by journalists regarding the role of insurance lobbyists. Interviews with proponents indicate that at the provincial level, most governments were supportive or indifferent of the GNDA. The Act survived passage as a Private Member’s Bill – the first to do so against the wishes of a Majority Party leadership. Afterwards, along with the Quebec and the B.C. government, the Attorney General of Canada challenged the Act in court based upon perceived infringements of provincial jurisdiction. The Act remains in force having survived a Supreme Court Challenge in 2019. Presently, the GNDA is being reported in social-media as potential defense against COVID-19 testing which utilizes DNA-sequencing to confirm infection. How will genetic discrimination be defined and defended in the media post-GNDA?

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Defined, Described and Defended: The Genetic Non-Discrimination Act in the Media

Genetic testing is a mainstream tool for disease prevention, diagnosis, and recreational genealogy. Many countries enacted legislation to protect their citizens against genetic discrimination in labour, health, and insurance markets. Risks assumed by an individual extend to their genetic relatives non-consensually. Canada lagged other nations in developing protections via Genetic Non-Discrimination Act (GNDA). As part of a larger study, my project has centered on how the GNDA was framed by journalists, editorials, and on emerging social-media platforms.

The decade long fight to enact the GNDA was an uphill battle filled with closed-door lobbying, political-maneuvering, and legal challenges. In the earliest media coverage, federal parties supported protections: both the Conservative and Liberal Parties espoused policies to prevent genetic discrimination. Nevertheless, both parties obstructed NDP initiatives. The lack of follow-through elicited speculation by journalists regarding the role of insurance lobbyists. Interviews with proponents indicate that at the provincial level, most governments were supportive or indifferent of the GNDA. The Act survived passage as a Private Member’s Bill – the first to do so against the wishes of a Majority Party leadership. Afterwards, along with the Quebec and the B.C. government, the Attorney General of Canada challenged the Act in court based upon perceived infringements of provincial jurisdiction. The Act remains in force having survived a Supreme Court Challenge in 2019. Presently, the GNDA is being reported in social-media as potential defense against COVID-19 testing which utilizes DNA-sequencing to confirm infection. How will genetic discrimination be defined and defended in the media post-GNDA?