It’s the end of another school year and Diabetes Canada, along with many concerned parents and caregivers, have yet to see adequate movement on a policy to keep kids living with type 1 diabetes safe while at school by adopting recommended guidelines.
“We refuse to let this important issue be ignored by our governments,” says Russell Williams, vice president of Government Relations and Public Policy at Diabetes Canada. “We’ve been urging all governments to introduce a policy addressing the daily management needs of students with diabetes,” add Williams. “Our provincial governments need to make proper diabetes management at school a priority now. Any school child could tell you that this inequality in the system is not fair. Our schools need to protect our children.”
Currently, Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Prince Edward Island still do not have a policy in place to protect children living with diabetes in school. It is important that all children with diabetes be afforded the same protections and given the same opportunities to succeed, no matter where they live or attend school.
For its part, Diabetes Canada and passionate volunteers will continue to raise the issue publically and with governments. “The need for a policy for kids with diabetes will not be ignored over the summer. We cannot go another school year with kids left in jeopardy; we need new school policies for the beginning of 2017/2018,” adds Williams.
According to a recent poll* earlier this year, commissioned by Diabetes Canada and conducted by Nanos, nearly 80 per cent of surveyed Canadians support school and daycare policies to ensure children with type 1 diabetes can manage their disease.
To maintain long-term good health, students living with diabetes must balance medication, including insulin, food and activity every day. With support from school personnel, most students can manage their diabetes independently while in school. However, some kids are unable to perform daily diabetes management tasks and may require someone to assist with or to administer insulin, monitor blood sugar, or supervise food intake and activity. “Without an official policy, these students may not be able to participate fully in school activities and it also leaves parents struggling to find support for their child who may not be able to self-manage their disease such as blood sugar monitoring and administering insulin,” says Williams.
Quotes from concerned parents and stakeholders:
“My son was diagnosed in grade three and has since graduated from school. I can speak from experience that there is an urgent need for the Prince Edward Island government to recognize the risks involved for children living with diabetes while at school. For example, children may be experiencing complications such as hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) which may result in serious health consequences that can affect their life. There is tremendous support from Diabetes Canada, the Paediatric Society, and the parents to help with the implementation of a policy or guidelines for the schools on P.E.I. As an advocate for the parents and children living with diabetes, the message is clear that for the safety of the children, PEI needs a policy which ensures the safety of all children with diabetes while at school.”
Liz McArthur, Prince Edward Island
“I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was in grade two. I didn’t have help at school to manage my diabetes. It affected my learning and teachers dismissed me as not being bright. Thirty-five years later, the system still has no province-wide diabetes policy in effect to support students; the time to act is now. The daily management of type 1 diabetes has a strong and serious impact on a student’s ability to learn and function to their full potential. We don’t want to have to lose the life of one of our precious type 1 warriors to see some action being taken.”
Stacey Livitski, Ontario
“Since my 8-year-old daughter was diagnosed four years ago, we’ve depended on the kindness of school staff and administrators to keep her safe and healthy. I also have an employer who understands my need for flexibility, to be on call and available at any time during the school day. But what about parents who are not as fortunate? Parents who can’t leave work at a moment’s notice? Or those who don’t have the resources to advocate for their kids, train school staff, or go on every field trip? Ontario needs a policy that ensures every child with type 1 diabetes gets the support they need.”
Elizabeth Moreau, Ontario
"I'm grateful for the wonderful support our son has received at school, but I'm worried about future years, whether he will get the help he needs to stay safe and to stay healthy long term. And I know of other kids who get very little or no support. It's just not equal across schools. That's why these kids need the Alberta government to stand up for them, to create a policy for students with diabetes."
Michelle MacPhee, Alberta
“A policy would provide a consistent standard of care available to all children with diabetes that ensures physical safety and emotional well-being during the school day. It would include expectations for all persons involved (educators, caregivers and children) that are set out by health care provisions recommendations, that do not change from year to year, school to school or amongst different children with diabetes.”
Maria Koropas, Manitoba
"I'm grateful for the wonderful support both our children with type 1 diabetes have received at school, but I'm worried about future years, and other children in our province. I know of other kids who get very little or no support. It's just not equal across schools. That's why these kids need the Saskatchewan government to stand up for them, to create a policy for students with diabetes in school."
Melissa Johnson, Saskatchewan
About Diabetes Canada
Diabetes Canada is the registered national charitable organization that is making the invisible epidemic of diabetes visible and urgent. Diabetes Canada partners with Canadians to End Diabetes through:
- Resources for health care professionals on best practices to care for people with diabetes;
- Advocacy to governments, schools and workplaces; and
- Funding world-leading Canadian research to improve treatments and find a cure.
For more information, visit diabetes.ca or call 1-800-BANTING (226-8464).