Canadian Coalition for Genetic Fairness
|Call for Federal Action on Genetic Discrimination|
Private member’s bill draws support from national coalition
(WINNIPEG) February 25, 2010 — Canadian Coalition for Genetic Fairness spokespersons were on hand today to support NDP MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis as she announced she will be tabling a bill to protect Canadians against genetic discrimination.
The MP for Winnipeg North is calling on government to expand the Canadian Human Rights Act to include genetic characteristics.
“We strongly support this bill,” says Don Lamont, Chair of the Canadian Coalition for Genetic Fairness. “Genetic discrimination is a growing issue across Canada as research breakthroughs mean more and more Canadians are benefiting from predictive testing — but also running the risk of discrimination from employers and insurance companies.”
The Coalition was formed in 2009 when 15 health advocacy organizations and research institutes came together to raise awareness of genetic discrimination and push for effective protection.
If passed, Wasylycia-Leis’s bill will be an important step towards bringing Canada in line with the U.S., France, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Belgium, which all have legislation prohibiting genetic discrimination.
“Amending the Canadian Human Rights Act is an important start to addressing a complex issue,” says Lamont.
Currently, the Act prohibits discrimination on a number of grounds including race, religion, sex, marital status and disability. It applies to federal government workplaces and Crown corporations, as well as chartered banks, airlines and companies within other federally regulated industries.
Over the longer term, the Coalition is pushing for legislation and policies that would protect all Canadians from genetic discrimination, whether that’s being forced by employers or insurers to take genetic tests or having their genetic information used to deny them insurance coverage or employment. The Coalition has been meeting with Parliamentarians from all political parties who recognize the importance of these issues.
“Genetic testing can offer many benefits,” says Lamont. “Right now, however, Canadians must weigh those benefits against some serious drawbacks. That needs to change.”
The Canadian Coalition for Genetic Fairness (www.ccgf-cceg.ca) is a group of 15 organizations dedicated to establishing protection against genetic discrimination: