(Montreal) The Ministries of Education and Health and Social Services are currently working on a framework for school-based care, La Presse Canadienne has learned. Part of this guide for educational institutions will focus on the distribution and administration of drugs in an emergency, including epinephrine injectors, known by the brand name EpiPen.
This framework would also recommend that each school have an injector; Currently, a few schools have one, but students with allergies are legally responsible for bringing theirs to school.
This measure echoes a petition tabled in the National Assembly by the CAQ MP for Mirabel, Sylvie D’Amours, who asks that the responsibility for equipping themselves with injectors now falls to primary schools. The CAQ members of the Standing Parliamentary Committee on Culture and Education, however, refused to take up the missive on Wednesday, due to the work and reflections already underway on the subject, said in an email the chief whip’s office. of the government.
Currently, the food supply is controlled in schools to avoid the presence of allergenic foods, both in cafeterias and vending machines, but also in snacks brought by students or meals provided by catering services, a clarified by e-mail the press relations service of the Ministry of Education.
Some school service centers and school boards have also implemented intervention protocols to react in the event of anaphylactic shock.
But no universal measure is applied at the level of the province, which is the only one in the country not to have legislated in this direction.
At the moment, each school is managing the situation as best it can, according to Allergies Québec, which has been campaigning for more than fifteen years for the adoption of a standardized and extended framework.
This results in “questionable practices, such as keeping auto-injectors in the school office rather than within immediate reach of the allergic person, or even ineffective measures such as the banishment of certain foods and the isolation of ‘students with meal allergies,’ read an open letter co-signed by the organization on the occasion of Quebec Food Allergy Day, March 21.
Allergies Québec notes a “marked interest” of the political class, all parties combined, for the question, especially since it is estimated that 75,000 schoolchildren have one or more food allergies and that approximately one reaction out of five severe allergies occurred in schools.
“Our file is well received and no one is against this desire to supervise young people, but it is as if we did not have a file holder. We don’t manage to have the necessary leadership to move things forward. It’s mysterious,” laments Ms. Seigneur.
In June 2018, the Parti Québécois, then in opposition, tabled a bill for Quebec to legislate to impose a universal protocol in the event of a severe allergic reaction. The Minister of Health at the time, the liberal Gaétan Barrette, had himself raised the idea of providing all schools with an EpiPen.
In 2019, the Minister of Health under the CAQ, Danielle McCann, opposed the imposition of a single protocol and preferred instead “a guide to good practices”, reported the daily Le Soleil.
Like defibrillators available in a growing number of public places, or even fire extinguishers in the event of a fire, injectors should be available to schoolchildren, as are first aid kits in the event of minor injury, believes the Association of Autonomous Parents’ Committees of Quebec (RCPAQ).
“It’s a good idea at the base, I don’t see any argument to support the contrary, commented in an interview with La Presse Canadienne Sylvain Martel, strategic advisor and spokesperson for the RCPAQ. There are ideas that don’t need to be thought about for years to make good sense. »
But Martel says it’s wrong to think that offering epinephrine injectors in schools will take the burden off students of lugging one around, as the petition suggests.
“It’s a great idea to have one in schools, in case a student’s is out of date, but keep in mind that kids who really need an EpiPen will carry one around with them. wherever they go, whether walking to school, on the bus or to visit friends. »
Between 6 and 8% of elementary school children have a food allergy.