What is the Canadian Diabetes Association’s position on diabetes self-care in public places?

When in public places, people with diabetes must be allowed to do what is necessary to prevent or treat hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia, including:

  • Self-monitor blood glucose levels;
  • Administer insulin;
  • Carry food and beverage supply; and,
  • Consume food and beverage.

People with diabetes are responsible for disposing of sharps and related materials in the safest possible manner.

Read the CDA's full position statement on self-care in public places, including background and rationale.

Should I be permitted to carry a snack or juice box with me when I attend a public event? 

Yes. The Canadian Diabetes Association believes that when in public places, people with diabetes must be allowed to do what is necessary to treat hypoglycemia, including carrying a snack and beverage supply, like a juice box.

What should I do if I am told food is not permitted or if it is confiscated?

Explain that you have diabetes and that you need to carry a snack and/or a juice box in order manage your blood glucose level and prevent an emergency situation. 

Most public places accommodate people with diabetes.  If someone denies your request, it is highly likely they do not understand diabetes and how it is managed. The Canadian Diabetes Association can provide them with information about diabetes.

Should I be able to administer insulin and monitor my blood glucose wherever and whenever I need to?

The Canadian Diabetes Association believes that when in public places, people with diabetes must be allowed to do what is necessary to prevent or treat hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia.

There is generally little problem with managing diabetes in a public place, but sometimes someone reacts negatively when they see a needle and/or blood glucose being tested in front of them. If this happens, it is highly likely the person does not understand diabetes and how it is managed.  

Are there laws that protect people with diabetes from being asked to leave a public location?

Human rights legislation states that people with diabetes have the right to participate fully in society without facing discrimination because of their diabetes. Section 5 of the Human Rights Act states:

5. It is a discriminatory practice in the provision of goods, services, facilities or accommodation customarily available to the general public

(a) to deny, or to deny access to, any such good, service, facility or accommodation to any individual, or

(b) to differentiate adversely in relation to any individual,

on a prohibited ground of discrimination.

Should I wear medical alert identification?

In case of a medical emergency, such as a severe hypoglycemic reaction, when third party assistance is needed, it is important to wear medical alert identification so you are treated promptly.