OHRC calls for expanded diabetes education

The Ontario Human Rights Commission has released its new policy and recommendations for
Action to improve diabetes awareness and education for elementary, secondary and post-secondary students with disabilities.

Diabetes Canada acknowledges this as a major step forward.

The Ontario Human Rights Code protects people with disabilities, including diabetes, from discrimination and harassment. Diabetes Canada is hopeful that the actions undertaken will result in positive changes for students in Ontario living with type 1 diabetes.

“The OHRC’s recommendations for key players in education (or education providers) to work together to remove the barriers for children with disabilities to acquire the necessary support at school are welcomed by parents with school-aged children with type 1 diabetes,” says Russell Williams, Vice President of Government Relations and Public Policy, Diabetes Canada. “A child with type 1 diabetes at school requires an individual care plan that complies with their prescribed diabetes management regimen. That is not always achievable at school, but now we hope it will be.”

Diabetes Canada believes that students living with diabetes have the right to be full and equal participants in school and in all school-related activities without the fear of being excluded, stigmatized, or discriminated against. Diabetes Canada Guidelines for the Care of Students Living with Diabetes outline how to support students living with diabetes at school.

A Ministry of Education Policy/Program Memorandum (PPM 161)—requiring school boards to educate staff and ensure that care plans are developed for students with potentially life-threatening medical conditions—is an important and appreciated first step to keeping children and youth with diabetes safe at school. However, there is still work to be done to ensure equitable support for students with type 1 diabetes across Ontario.

To maintain long-term good health, students with diabetes must balance insulin, food and activity every day. With support from school personnel, most students can manage their diabetes independently while at school. However, some students are unable to perform the daily diabetes management tasks and may require someone to assist with or to administer insulin, monitor blood sugar levels, or supervise food intake and activity.
Poor management of blood sugar levels can seriously affect academic performance and sometimes result in a student’s exclusion from school activities and field trips. Ongoing elevated blood sugar that is not recognized and left untreated can eventually lead to serious health problems such as heart disease, blindness, amputation and kidney failure.

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