T1D at School: provincial policies for students with diabetes at school (Canada)
How our T1D students are supported (or not) at school depends on where they live. Education is the responsibility not of the federal, but of the provincial governments in Canada. As a result, policies and procedures to protect the safety, long term health, education and rights of students with diabetes vary widely from province to province. Those policies are listed here, with links to the source documents.
The Canadian Pediatric Society’s 2016 status report Are We Doing Enough? evaluated public policies affecting children and youth in Canada. In the section on Management of Type 1 Diabetes in School, they assessed all 13 provinces and territories on how they support students with managing T1D at school, from Poor to Fair to Good. (No one earned an Excellent rating.)
In 2020, Diabetes Canada provided an overview of the challenges, policy implications, and recommendations to promote a safe and inclusive environment at school for students with diabetes. which included a side-by-side comparison of provincial policies. It shows that things have improved over the past several years, but there is still much work to be done to keep our T1D kids safe at school and ready to learn.
Diabetes@School, a website by the the Canadian Paediatric Society in partnership with the Canadian Paediatric Endocrine Group and Diabetes Canada, provides information on the policies for students with diabetes in place in each province.
Canadian Provinces with Existing Policies
Currently, seven provinces have policies or guidelines that specifically address type 1 diabetes in the school setting.1
- British Columbia: Provincial Standards: Supporting Students with Type 1 Diabetes in the School Setting (2015)
- New Brunswick: A Handbook for Type 1 Diabetes Management in Schools (2008)
- Newfoundland and Labrador: Guidelines for Diabetes Management in Schools (2014)
- Nova Scotia: Guidelines for Supporting Students with Type 1 Diabetes (and Other Diabetes Requiring Insulin) in Schools(2010)
- Ontario: Supporting Children and Students with Prevalent Medical Conditions (Anaphylaxis, Asthma, Diabetes, and/or Epilepsy) in Schools (2018)
- Prince Edward Island: Guidelines for Diabetes Management in Schools (2018)
- Quebec: Protocole d'intervention en milieu scolaire pour les élèves atteints de diabète de type 1 and School intervention protocol for students with type 1 diabetes (2012)
Resources for Parents to Work with School Staff
The following resources provide guidance to parents on how to work effectively with school staff in developing and implementing a Care Plan, getting school staff up-to-speed on diabetes: what it is and how best to keep your child safe and protect their long term health while at school.
Other Waltzing the Dragon pages:
Diabetes at School: Overview
Alberta Children’s Hospital Diabetes Clinic:
Letter for School Staff from the Alberta Children’s Hospital Diabetes Clinic
Videos to watch with or share with school staff: DiabetesAtSchool.ca Video Series
International Diabetes Federation (IDF) Kids and Diabetes in Schools: Info Pack for Teachers, Parents, and Students
Who else is working for change?
The Sir Frederick Banting Legacy Foundation has also released a report on In-School Support for Students Living with Diabetes: Status and Recommendations (Canada) including comparisons with Australia, United Kingdom, United States (September, 2018), which provides more detail on how students are supported, province by province, across Canada. They constructed the report by contacting each province and territory at the Cabinet level to collect information on the scope of diabetes care at school (number of students, number of schools, how many schools had adopted provincial policies or guidelines), the existence of current policies and guidelines (or plans to develop the same) in each province.
They summarized the essential findings, including:
- In-school support programs are essential
- Standards are Essential
- School Level Programs Bring Added Benefits
- Creating a standard policy or guideline is an essential first step but does not guarantee action.
- Reasons for the relatively slow pace of standard, statutory policy creation
- Reasons why achieving universal in-school support is difficult
- Existing Advocacy Efforts
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