05/03/2016 15:33 EDT | Updated 05/04/2017 01:12 EDT

Genetic discrimination legislation makes it way to House of Commons

OTTAWA — Legislation designed to address fears about genetic discrimination has made its way to the House of Commons after receiving unanimous support in the Senate.

If passed, Sen. James Cowan's bill would protect patients from third parties, such as insurance companies, seeking the results of genetic testing.

Liberal MP Rob Oliphant, who supports the legislation, says Canadian laws have not kept pace with science, escalating the risk of discrimination based on a person's genetic profile.

Oliphant says this fear makes patients more hesitant to pursue genetic testing, despite recommendations from their doctors.

He says the legislation is also needed to protect Canadians' rights as the field of genetic testing rapidly expands.

John Fleming, who chairs the national board of Ovarian Cancer Canada, says there is great concern about barriers that would stop women from seeking genetic testing to determine if they are at greater risk of developing the condition.


The Canadian Press