Families of children with Type 1 Diabetes file human rights complaint

Vancouver [March 3, 2015] — On March 2, 2015 two families of children with Type 1 Diabetes filed human rights complaints about diabetes care in school. The Ministries responsible for providing diabetes care, the Ministries of Health, Education, and Children and Family Development, are offering one standardized care plan for all children in BC and refusing to allow any changes to the plan to accommodate differences between children.

Type 1 Diabetes is often called the "snowflake disease" because it impacts each child differently. But when the Ministries introduced a standardized province-wide plan last year, parents were told if they did not consent to the standardized plan, their child would receive no care at all.

Diabetes is a serious condition that requires individualized care. Delays in checking or treating blood sugar lows or highs can result in damage to vital body systems, seizures, comas, and even death. Delays also affect a child's ability to learn and participate in school.

Guilly and Colin Milburn are the parents of a 6 year old girl with Type 1 Diabetes who attends school in New Westminster. Although they were worried about whether the standardized care plan would work for their daughter, they signed the plan when they were told that if they didn't, their daughter would receive no care. Within 2 days of being on the standardized care plan, their daughter had a serious hypoglycemic episode at school. Her parents withdrew consent for the plan.

Ailsa and Theo Pella are the parents of an 8 year old boy with Type 1 Diabetes who attends school in Surrey. They were denied diabetes care in school when they asked for some changes to the standardized plan for their son.

With no diabetes care services in school, parents like Theo and Guilly have had to give up their jobs and spend their days at school providing their children's diabetes care.

"Human rights law requires that children with disabilities receive individual accommodation in school," said Laura Johnston of the Community Legal Assistance Society, who represents the families. "Like many disabilities, Type 1 Diabetes affects different children in different ways. A 'one size fits all' approach to accommodation does not comply with human rights law."

Media Contacts:

Laura Johnston, Articled Student, Community Legal Assistance Society, 604-673-3123

Frances Kelly, Lawyer, Community Legal Assistance Society, 604-673-3136

Guilly Milburn, Complainant, 604-839-7181