Seclusion rooms to be banned in Alberta

February 22, 2019

Ministerial Order will close seclusion rooms for 2019-2020 school year

Inclusion Alberta applauds the Minister of Education’s commitment to ensuring that all children learn in a safe, respectful and welcoming environment banning the use of seclusion rooms in Alberta schools through a Ministerial Order. Following the alarming results of the survey Inclusion Alberta conducted and the lawsuit launched by Marcy Oakes and Warren Henschel on behalf of their son, Alberta Education has finally committed to banning seclusion rooms and ensuring an enforceable mechanism is in place to hold school authorities accountable.

Inclusion Alberta President Barb MacIntyre, a parent of a son with developmental disabilities, said “We applaud the Minister for listening to the voices of parents and students and showing the leadership required. He is to be commended for taking action on behalf of students who often are perceived to have no voice. This is a day to be celebrated as it will no longer be possible for young children to be locked in solitary confinement when at school, or for their parents to be filled with worry when they send their children to school.”

Inclusion Alberta CEO Trish Bowman added “We are thrilled with the announcement of this very necessary and welcome decision. We know more remains to be done including increasing positive approaches and training for teachers and school personnel, but Alberta is leading the country on this issue thanks to Minister Eggen understanding the concerns and taking action. We recognize the importance of carefully crafting the order to ensure it is the practice of seclusion that ends, not solely the closure of rooms, and would welcome the opportunity to provide input or comment on the Ministerial Order to ensure the safety and well-being of all students in Alberta.”

One week ago, Inclusion Alberta released results from its survey on seclusion and restraint in Alberta schools. It paints a troubling image of abuse and shame of children with developmental disabilities, and those with Autism. We joined with parents and Autism Edmonton to ask the Education Minister to do more than draft new guidelines for these practices.