Marc Andre
The Northwest Herald
July 23, 2009

It has become a first for Canadians and the implications can be astronomical, a massively large insurance firm; The CUMIS Group Limited Insurance whohave beenpartnered along with thousands of banks across North America for insurance requirements, has now accepted a policy of pre-screening drug tests & hair samples for the right to obtain home loan insurance, a necessity, if you’re going to purchase a home in Canada.

We first learned of this policy from a source who prefers to remain anonymous. The bank in question is called AFFINITY CREDIT UNION in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada; they are partnered with CUMIS insurance to offer home loan insurance.

This precedent setting policy from CUMIS & AFFINITY CREDIT UNION in Canada has now mandated that hair samples, urine drug testing, as well as a documented question and answer portion, (which our sources have indicated to be highly sensitive personal inquiries), will now be the norm for those apparently “high-risk” individuals.

We first learned of this story from a young man in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. Our source was instructed to undergo a rigorous pre-screening procedure in order to obtain insurance for his new home.

Our source stated that; “the bank (Affinity credit union) said that I should use the insurance company they provide to make things smoother, I never thought anything of it.” “I don’t really care if I get tested; it’s just a hassle with my work schedule” said our source. Additional information gathered showed that our sources’ home value was approximately $300,000 when he applied for the loan – slightly above the average cost of a home in Canada, sitting at $287,000.

University of Saskatchewan, Professor William Buschert from the Department of Philosophy and Political Studies, says he is “surprised it is happening in Canada,” he also noted “from an ethical standpoint, it’s disturbing”. “The United States Government, got rid of this mandate in 2008, precisely because of the legal, moral, and privacy implications it presents… not to mention the selective way of ‘insuring’ one group of people and not the other. However, from the stance of the insurance companies, this ensures that they don’t get the “wrong” type of people”.

Professor Buschert also mentioned, playing devil’s advocate at times, that having this practice banned may create an unfair burden on the insurance companies and will ultimately create higher premium rates for the clients they serve.

When asked about the attitude of the general public regarding this issue of insurance companies gaining biometric samples for home loans, when some would say ‘what’s the harm, I have nothing to hide’, Professor Buschert responded with the following, “regardless of whether someone may have a ‘nothing to hide, so what’s the harm’ attitude, it is obvious that this is an encroachment of individual freedoms, not to mention the privacy issues herein”.

We also contacted Saskatchewan Government Insurance Canada for comments, (they are a government agency who provides various types of insurance for western & central Canada; it is to be noted that SGI Canada is entirely separate from CUMIS) SGI Canada stated that; “we do not have a policy for drug testing for home insurance purposes.”

We also reached the bank in question, AFFINITY CREDIT UNION in Saskatoon, sk, Canada. They commented that “High Risk” individuals may include those who purchase a home above 300,000 dollars”.

When asked if AFFINITY CREDIT UNION were aware of their partner CUMIS, performing drug screening, hair samples, and a multitude of highly personal information for ‘high risk’ individuals seeking home insurance, they responded with the following, “CUMIS does conduct the necessary screening procedure for homes above 300,000 dollars.” And does that include hair samples and urine samples? “yes”.

When reached for comment a CUMIS representative stated that; “it is our policy to conduct drug screening for homes loans above 300,000 dollars, so we can protect that money somehow” they also stated that even if you answer ‘no’ to any questions on the health questionnaire you will still have to “provide a urine sample”. Interviewer: Are you aware of an executive order from Bush in 2008, disallowed CUMIS INS from gathering hair and urine samples, in the USA? They responded by saying. “well, were not in the states are we”. Indeed we are not, but the question remains, is it still ethically responsible, regardless of the location?

Upon further investigation, we have concluded that this issue has raised more questions than answers.

How long has this been going on? Are other insurance companies practicing this policy? Is this being documented? What is done with the biometric samples? Legal issues? Are the samples allowed to be sold to other insurance companies? Why is this not being reported in the mainstream media? Is the government going to do anything about it?

What makes this case interesting is that this was not an abnormally large mortgage value, and there were no indications that this individual was singled out for any reason. We are led to believe that this will be the norm from now on, until the public makes a fuss, we will all be forced to give up our freedoms for the greed of major corporations like Cumis Group Limited.