moved for leave to introduce Bill C-536, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act (genetic characteristics).
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce an act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act, genetic characteristics. I thank the member for Hamilton Mountain for seconding the bill.
The bill would add the term “genetic characteristics” to the list of prohibitive grounds of discrimination in the Canadian Human Rights Act. It is an updated version of a bill tabled by my former colleague, Judy Wasylycia-Leis, earlier this year. At the time she tabled it, she said that this bill would stop Canadians' personal genetic information from being used against them. Employers, insurance companies and others have already begun to discriminate against people based on their genetic makeup. People are being punished in fundamental ways, like being prevented from earning a living or buying a house for something they have no control over. That is unfair, and this bill would update the Canadian Human Rights Act to deal with this 21st century problem.
She also pointed out that health conscious Canadians were increasingly testing for genetic clues so they can take steps to avoid diseases or conditions to which they may have a genetic predisposition. Their reward should be better health but the information is increasingly being used to exclude people from job opportunities and limit access to mortgages and insurance benefits. There is currently nothing to prevent insurance companies and others from demanding test rests and basing decisions on them.
This issue was brought to my attention by Kristina Vandervoort of North Vancouver and it is supported by the Canadian Coalition for Genetic Fairness, whose members include the Huntington Society of Canada, the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the Muscular Dystrophy of Canada, the Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics, the Parkinson Society of Canada, the Spina Bifida & Hydrocephalus Association of Canada, the National Ovarian Cancer Association, the ALS Society of Canada, the Alzheimer Society of Canada, the Osteoporosis Society--