Over the past few weeks, I have received many letters and emails concerning Bill S-201. I would like to let the constituents of York Centre know that I strongly support this Private Members Bill, An Act to Prohibit and Prevent Genetic Discrimination, in its original and unamended form. This Bill would prohibit genetic discrimination by any company or individual. Practically, it would prevent insurance companies from requiring the disclosure of genetic test results.
Our medical system is transitioning from a focus on diagnostics and corrective medicines to a much more targeted approach—one based on genomes. To address this new reality, Bill S-201 removes the very real barriers to getting a genetic test faced by certain groups. This is exemplified by the prevalence of Tay-Sachs carriers amongst the Jewish and French Canadian communities, and the sickle-cell trait in the African American community. Under current laws, insurers can demand access to genetic test results, and they can deny coverage based on this information.This disincentivises individuals from getting essential genetic tests, and could lead to poorer health outcomes.
Bill S-201 would provide legal safeguards to Canadians, protecting them from being discriminated against based on their genetic predispositions.
This Bill would make it illegal for anyone to be compelled to take a genetic test or to disclose genetic test results. In the absence of this Bill, insurance companies are free to charge increased premiums, or even deny coverage, based on a person’s genes.
Bill S-201 is the next step in advancing Canada’s human rights protections in the 21st century. Canadians have a right to protect their genetic information, and Bill S-201 will ensure that our laws recognize and protect this right.