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Canada's DNA database was introduced in 2000.

The 2008 Interpol survey reports that 34,254 crime scene DNA profiles and 110,930 individuals' profiles were held in Canada at the time of the survey. According to Interpol, Canada's DNA database grew to 64,000 crime scene DNA profiles and 215,000 reference DNA profiles from individuals in 2011. A DNA database legislation had been adopted at that time according to Interpol.

In 2014, the Federal Government proposed a new missing persons' DNA database.


Detailed analysis

The DNA Identification Act, 1998 provides for the establishment of a DNA databank and amended the Criminal Code of Canada to provide a mechanism for a judge to order persons convicted of designated offences to provide blood, buccal or hair samples from which DNA profiles could be derived. The DNA Identification Act includes strict guidelines on genetic privacy and stipulates that samples collected from convicted offenders can only be used for law enforcement purposes. The Canadian DNA database is therefore restricted in its application to convicted offenders and is limited to those convicted of designated offences as defined in the Criminal Code. The DNA data bank of Canada manages two principal indices, namely: a) The Convicted Offender Index; and b) the Crime Scene Index containing DNA profiles obtained from crime scenes.

The National DNA Data Bank conforms with the requirements of ISO/IEC 17025 and is recognized as an accredited testing laboratory for specific tests listed in the scope of accreditation approved by the Standards Council of Canada.

Section 9(1) of the DNA Identification Act, provides that information in the convicted offenders index is to be kept indefinitely. Section 9(2) however provides for the removal of information from the convicted offenders index if the person’s conviction is set aside or if the person is subsequently acquitted of the offence. If a person’s profile was entered into the convicted offenders’ index and that person is subsequently granted a pardon then the Act stipulates that his or her profile may not be used for forensic DNA analysis (section 9(8) of the Act). With regard to children, the Act provides that information may be kept on the convicted offenders’ register, but must be removed when the record relating to the same offence is required to be destroyed, sealed or transmitted to the National Archivist of Canada under Part 6 of the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Samples may only be used for forensic DNA analysis and may only be used for comparing offender profiles with crime scene profiles.

The Act provides for the retroactive collection of profiles. In R v Rodgers (2006), the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the legality of the DNA database, including the retroactive collection of profiles. The Court held that “DNA sampling is no more part of the arsenal of sanctions to which an accused may be liable in respect of a particular offence than the taking of a photograph or fingerprints. The fact that the DNA order may have a deterrent effect on the offender does not make it a punishment”.