Ministerial Order Regulating Seclusion is Welcome Step to a Future Ban

October 23, 2019

Today’s announcement by Minister Adriana LaGrange regulating seclusion rooms – and strictly limiting the use of such isolation to emergencies only – is a welcome step on the path to their eventual elimination and banishment. We appreciate Minister LaGrange’s continuing commitment to work collaboratively with Inclusion Alberta on this issue and many others.

Inclusion Alberta CEO Trish Bowman stated, “We believe, for these standards to be effective there must be a stringent and public monitoring process to ensure when a child with disabilities is locked in a seclusion room it is only in the context of an emergency relative to safety, with no other alternative. The very necessity for a Ministerial Order is a direct consequence of those school districts who failed in their responsibility to ensure children with disabilities were not subject to the abusive and traumatic use of seclusion and restraint.”

Given this now public history, we simply cannot rely on all school districts to abide by the Standards without a substantive and public monitoring process. Children with disabilities and their families deserve and require no less.”

By definition, an emergency is an unexpected or unforeseen event and, as such, when a district reports the same student being locked in isolation multiple times, this is no longer seclusion in the context of an emergency and demands an alternate approach. In addition, one student may be locked in isolation far more repeatedly than others and for lengthy periods of time. Unless this information is known, the Ministry will not be able to intervene in a timely fashion and the misuse of seclusion will continue to be kept from public view, to say nothing of the trauma and harm to the student. This recurrent use of seclusion would be counter to the very intent of the Ministerial Order.

Inclusion Alberta works with and supports teachers and schools in many districts across Alberta and, on behalf of the many thousands of families we represent, acknowledges and appreciates those districts that do not use seclusion rooms. These districts offer parents the peace of mind of knowing their children with disabilities will not be repeatedly locked in seclusion month after month.

“No student should be subject to seclusion on the basis of the fact they simply happen to attend one district’s schools and not another,” stated Barb MacIntyre, Inclusion Alberta President and also the parent of a son with developmental disabilities.

“Inclusion Alberta remains committed to working with those districts that want to reduce and eliminate their use of seclusion for students with developmental disabilities”.

The Standards will take effect November 1, 2019 and replace interim standards and previous Ministerial Orders related to the use of isolation in Alberta schools. 

We encourage parents and families to read and download the Standards which stipulate, for example, that seclusion can only be used in a crisis or emergency and that a positive behaviour support plan must be in place. As we continue to advocate for a ban, we encourage families to contact us if their son or daughter is being placed in a seclusion room. We want to know why, what positive support plan is in place, how often and for how long seclusion lasted and we will use this information in our continuing advocacy efforts.

At the Government of Alberta’s webpage for the Standards you will find the Ministerial Order on standards for seclusion and restraint and new guidelines for time-out.

For PDF versions of the documents, click the following links: