A Word from our Chair – Update: Genetic anti-Discrimination legislation and Shana Tovah

While classical forms of discrimination tend to garner attention, there are other, more subtle forms that also demand scrutiny. We remain vigilant in countering these ‘quiet’ forms of discrimination which, although far from the headlines, can have an immense impact on our community.

With that in mind, I am pleased to announce that CIJA has joined the Canadian Coalition for Genetic Fairness as part of our efforts to advance legislative safeguards to prevent genetic discrimination in Canada. While genetic discrimination does not usually attract much notice, given the increasingly important role of genetic testing in identifying, treating, and preventing diseases, it is a serious issue and one of particular relevance to our community.

Research demonstrates that genetic markers indicating a pre-disposition to certain illnesses are disproportionately prevalent among Jews. It is crucial that Jewish Canadians be able to participate in life-saving medical research and clinical treatments without fear of discrimination by employers or insurance companies based on the results of genetic testing.

Canada remains the only G8 country without any specific protections in place, a situation CIJA and our coalition partners are working to change. This is an issue that transcends partisan politics, demonstrated by the varied initiatives of elected officials across party lines and at multiple levels of government to resolve the situation.

While a time of personal review and reflection, Rosh Hashanah is also a time to reaffirm our collective responsibility, as embodied in the fact that our prayers – including our requests for forgiveness and our hopes for the year to come – will be expressed in the plural form in synagogues around the world this week.

In addition to wishing you a sweet New Year filled with peace and happiness, I invite you to challenge yourself to become active in Jewish advocacy – on any issue and in any way that most inspires you – to help secure our collective future in the year ahead.

Given the extraordinary challenges our family and friends in Israel – and, to a lesser extent, those in Europe – have faced over the past months, the need is all the greater.

Ketivah V’Chatima Tova

– David


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