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Preventing Genetic Discrimination

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Richard Marceau, CIJA’s General Counsel and Senior Government Advisor, testifying on the issue of genetic discrimination in front of the Senate Human Rights Committee.

Given the increasingly important role of genetic testing in identifying, treating, and preventing diseases, genetic discrimination is a serious issue and one of particular relevance to Canada’s Jewish community. Research shows that genetic markers indicating pre-disposition to certain illnesses are disproportionately prevalent among Jews. It is crucial that Jewish Canadians be able to participate in potentially life-saving medical research, diagnostics, and clinical treatments without fear of discrimination, based on the results of genetic testing, by employers or insurance companies.

Despite broad, multi-partisan consensus supporting action to prevent genetic discrimination, Canada remains the only G-7 country without specific measures in place to do so. To advance this important cause, CIJA has joined the Canadian Coalition for Genetic Fairness and is working with all parties at all levels of government to advance legislative safeguards to prevent genetic discrimination. To that end, CIJA and our coalition partners testified on December 10, 2014 in the Senate regarding Bill S-201: An Act to Prohibit and Prevent Genetic Discrimination, and support Bill C-68: Protection Against Genetic Discrimination Act, tabled in the House of Commons on June 9, 2015.