A supportive school environment is vital to keep students with type 1 diabetes safe and healthy. Yet half of Canadian provinces do not have diabetes management policies to reduce the risk of life-threatening emergencies. An estimated one out of 300 school aged children have type 1 diabetes – about one per school.
According to a recent poll* 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. Nearly all Canadians surveyed are aware that if diabetes is not managed properly, it can lead to life-threatening emergencies.
“The remaining provincial governments need to recognize students living with diabetes are put in danger when there is no policy in place to protect them, “ says Diabetes Canada President and CEO, Rick Blickstead. “As a result, students living with diabetes often are put in jeopardy and are unable to learn and participate fully in all school activities, while many parents are left struggling to find adequate support for children who are unable to self-manage their diabetes, such as blood sugar monitoring and administering insulin.”
Students living with diabetes have a daily need to balance food, insulin and physical activity – for which they may need help from school personnel. Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Prince Edward Island are the provinces that do not have a policy to protect children living with diabetes in school. Ontario and Prince Edward Island have committed to creating policies but do not have a timeline.
“There are discrepancies in resources and policy across the country, even among schools in the same jurisdiction,” said Dr. Sarah Lawrence, a paediatric endocrinologist in Ottawa and lead author of the Canadian Paediatric Society’s guidelines on managing type 1 diabetes in school. “Type 1 diabetes is not a static condition, so it’s critical that school personnel be educated, equipped and available to support students with this disease.”
For years, Diabetes Canada has called on provinces and territories to implement policies that protect the well-being of students with diabetes.
To help guide governments to fill the training gap, the Canadian Paediatric Society, Diabetes Canada, and Canadian Pediatric Endocrine Group have created Diabetes@School, a comprehensive bilingual website with resources for school staff.
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).