Saturday, April 17, 2021
Dimitri Patrinos, Roxanne Caron, Bartha Maria Knoppers, Ma'n H. Zawati (McGill University), Genetic Counsellors, Legal Recognition and the Road Less Travelled, SSRN:
Genetics and genomics are playing increasingly important roles in the Canadian health care system. With their specialized training in medical genetics and counselling, genetic counsellors have come to occupy more comprehensive roles in the provision of health care services. Despite these important advances, the majority of Canadian provinces have yet to legally recognize genetic counsellors. To date, Manitoba is the only province to legally recognize genetic counsellors through delegation from physicians. Consequently, the majority of genetic counsellors in Canada are not governed by legislation that ensures the safe and competent provision of their services to the public. This lack of legal recognition presents several issues, as genetic counsellors are routinely involved in patient care activities that expose the public to risk of harm. This article argues for the legal recognition of genetic counsellors in Canada. It explores the implications of the lack of legal recognition and proposes three models of legal recognition using a comparative analysis of professional legislation in the provinces of Ontario, British Columbia, and Québec: (1) the constitution of a professional order; (2) inclusion in a professional order; and (3) delegation. The authors explore the advantages and disadvantages of each model and conclude, based on a comparative assessment of these models, that the constitution of a professional order is the model in which the advantages most outweigh the disadvantages.