Genetic Testing - Updates

On September 29, Bill 30,  An Act to amend the Human Rights Code with respect to genetic characteristics, a private members bill was introduced into the Ontario legislature for first reading. The Bill would amend the Ontario Human Rights Code to include genetic characteristics as a prohibited ground of discrimination. The Act also provides for equal treatment of individuals who refuse to undergo or disclose the results of a genetic test.

Worthy of note, there is an exception included that would permit differentiation on reasonable and bona fide grounds in insurance contracts paying a benefit in excess of $1 million total or $75,000 per annum.  

Additionally, the Federal Bill S-201 An Act to prohibit and prevent genetic discrimination began 2nd reading debate in the House of Commons on September 20, 2016. Bill S-201 seeks to prohibit the use of genetic test results as a condition to provide goods or services to, enter into or continue a contract with or offer specific conditions in a contract with, an individual. 

The Government confirmed they support the overall intention of the Bill and specifically the amendments to the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Canada Labour Code such as,prohibiting anyone from requiring an individual to take a genetic test or to disclose the results of a genetic test and prohibit discrimination on the ground of genetic characteristics.

The Government also recognized that it does not have the ability unilaterally to pass legislation dealing with contracts for all goods and services, including insurance. There are jurisdictional concerns that need to be addressed and the provinces need to be engaged.

We will continue to monitor this issue and keep you informed of any updates.