An unforeseen consequence of the increased use of genetic tests by medical practitioners is their use as a basis of discrimination by service providers, employers or insurance companies. That is why I was proud to sponsor Bill S-201 in the House of Commons in May 2016, and to see it through to becoming law one year later on May 4th, 2017. Developed with informative input from health charities, patient groups and Senator Jim Cowan, this bill has three crucial and necessary pillars that protect Canadians. It creates a new Genetic Non-Discrimination Act that prohibits service providers from demanding genetic testing or requiring past results. It also provides for a complaint procedure for federal employees facing disciplinary action because of results from genetic testing. Lastly, it adds “genetic characteristics” as a prohibited ground of discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act. Each pillar of Bill S-201 is crucial to protect Canadians from genetic discrimination, advance genetic research and improve Canadians’ health.
Ensuring Canadians are protected against discrimination based on their personal genetic information is to me a matter of justice; it is part of the freedom from discrimination that no one should be stripped of. Thanks to the passing of Bill S-201 and the hard work of local organisations, Canadians will no longer need to decide between potential genetic discrimination and access to the best medical care.
© 2019 Rob Oliphant. All rights reserved.