Link Round-Up: March 17, 2017


'Link Round-Up’ gives you a glimpse into the articles that got the most airtime around the Loom Analytics water cooler this week. Published every Friday, article topics include access to justice, big data, legal technology, and what’s happening in the Canadian legal landscape.

  • Bill S-201, the Genetic Non-Discrimination Act, passed in the House of Commons on Wednesday, with many Liberal backbench MPs breaking with the Prime Minister’s Cabinet to pass it. The law "prohibits anyone from requiring a person to undergo or reveal the results of a genetic test as a condition of employment or before selling that person a good or service, such as life or disability insurance." Among those advocating for the bill was Dr. Ronald Cohn, chief of pediatrics at Toronto's Sick Kids Hospital:

Cohn said he found it difficult to treat young patients whose parents declined genetic testing that could offer a clear diagnosis because of privacy concerns.

"This was sometimes paralyzing to me to sit there and know that I was providing sub-par clinical care," he said. "The fact that I hopefully don't have to make this a topic of conversation any more is a significant game changer for the way I and many others practise medicine."

Among the recommendations put forth in Justice Bonkalo's report is one suggesting specialized family law licensing for Ontario paralegals, whose limited scope of power has heretofore explicitly excluded family services. The recommendation has proven to be a controversial one, with many lawyers and judges speaking out against it, including Ontario court justice Marion Cohen:

“These recommendations are not the solution,” Cohen said of the problems facing the family justice system, expressing particular concern with allowing paralegals to handle complex child custody and access issues.

“What’s at stake (in these cases) is of great magnitude,” she said …“This is the most important work that we do.”

The solution, she said, is a “properly funded, properly resourced legal aid system. It’s what the people of Ontario have a right to expect. . . . This is your legal system and you expect to get the same access to your legal system as everybody else gets.”

The Law Society of Upper Canada is looking for public feedback on Justice Bonkalo's report, and will be accepting feedback until May 15th, 2017.