The Canadian Diabetes Association has unveiled a Diabetes Charter for Canada, laying out what it believes are the rights and responsibilities of patients, governments, health care providers and schools.

"We've developed the charter to raise awareness about the burden of diabetes and for people who live with the disease," said Sue Taylor, regional director for the B.C. & Yukon chapter of the Canadian Diabetes Association.


Diabetes patients have the right to reasonable accommodation in schools and the workplace, according to the new Diabetes Charter for Canada. (iStock)

"It's also to address misinformation about the disease, which can lead to feelings of isolation and stigma for people with diabetes," she said.

One in four Canadians are living with diabetes or prediabetes. Taylor says the disease costs B.C.'s health care system $1.6 billion a year.

"Unless we can reverse the trajectory of this, the health care system is going to be in jeopardy," said Taylor.

Diabetes Charter for Canada highlights:

  • Canadians living with diabetes have the right to affordable and timely access to prescribed medications, devices, supplies and high quality care, as well as affordable and adequate access to healthy foods and recreation, regardless of their income or where they live.
  • Canadians living with diabetes have the right to fully participate in daycare, preschool, school and extracurricular activities, receiving reasonable accommodation and assistance if needed.
  • Canadians living with diabetes have the responsibility to self-manage to the best of their abilities and personal circumstances, including a healthy diet and exercise.
    'Unless we can reverse the trajectory of this, the health care system is going to be in jeopardy' - Sue Taylor, Canadian Diabetes Association
  • Governments have the responsibility to collect data on diabetes burden, such as costs and complications.
  • Governments have the responsibility to implement policies and regulations to support schools and workplaces in providing reasonable accommodation to people with diabetes in their self-management.
  • Schools, preschools and daycares have the responsibility to provide a safe environment for diabetes self-management and protect children with diabetes from discrimination.

B.C. government working on accommodations

Caring for kids with diabetes has been a controversial issue in B.C. schools.

In 2011, parents of children with Type 1 diabetes launched a petition against the B.C. government, saying it is failing their children by not providing in-school assistants who are trained to adjust insulin pumps.

The government is now working on a plan to train school staff to administer insulin. That's expected to be in place by the 2014/15 school year.

Starting this year, health authorities are training designated school staff to administer glucagon, an emergency treatment for severe hypoglycemia.

Taylor says that B.C. now leads the country when it comes to accommodations for children with diabetes.

She says she'll use the new charter to advocate for further changes, and to work to improve the quality of life for people with diabetes.