Doctor's desk with laptop and stethoscope

What you need to know about S-201 genetic testing

A genetic test analyzes DNA, RNA or chromosomes to help predict disease or transmission of risks. These tests are sometimes used for monitoring, diagnosis or prognosis.

On May 4, 2017 Bill S-201 received Royal Assent, making it a criminal offence to require an individual to undergo a genetic test to:

  • Receive goods and services
  • Enter into or continue a contract or agreement
  • Have or continue to have specific terms or conditions in a contract or agreement

Although the bill provides exceptions for health care practitioners and researchers using genetic test information, we’re prohibited from collecting, using or disclosing the results of a genetic test when making a decision on insurance coverage.

We can still ask about family history when underwriting a plan member who’s applying for excess or optional coverage, and applicants must disclose if they have symptoms or a diagnosis. However, we can’t ask for or use any genetic test results when making underwriting or disability claim decisions.

Currently, the Federal Government is seeking the Supreme Court of Canada’s advice on the Bill and its constitutionality.