Bill 127 – Expanding the Code to Add Genetic Protection

The Addition of Genetic Characteristics
Bill 127, a private member’s bill, is currently before the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, and, if passed, will broaden the scope of protection available pursuant to the Ontario Human Rights Code (the “Code”).
The proposed change calls for the addition of “genetic characteristics” to the list of enumerated, and protected, grounds pursuant to the Code. As currently drafted, “genetic characteristics” would be defined as “genetic traits of an individual, including traits that may cause or increase the risk to develop a disorder or disease.” A “genetic trait” is generally understood to include certain aspects of a person’s appearance, such as hair and eye colour, as well as blood type and predisposition to certain diseases.
 Bill 127: Expanding the Code to Prevent Discrimination
The Coalition for Genetic Fairness, with the support of Liberal Michael Colle, has proposed the dramatic new addition in order to prevent discrimination on the basis of genetics.
The Coalition’s impetus is based on their concern that people in Ontario are treated differently based on their pre-disposition for a particular disease or a family history of disease or illness, especially when dealing with insurance and insurance companies.
Bill 127, expanding the code to prevent genetic discrimination. If passed, the proposed changes will likely lead to some interesting cases when applied in the employment context especially with respect to what exactly is protected and what conduct is prohibited.