Vancouver Location
Calgary Location

The Gold Standard for Diabetes care

Insulin pump therapy has been shown to be superior to conventional therapy in Type 1 Diabetes (insulin dependent diabetes). Type 1 diabetes is a chronic disease that if not well treated can lead to serious complications involving the eyes (retinopathy), kidneys (nephropathy) and nerves (neuropathy). It is now well known that improved diabetes therapy results in fewer complications of diabetes.

Pump therapy is becoming more available and is now considered the gold standard for Diabetes Care. In the United States close to 20% of patients are on this form of therapy, in Canada the rate is 5%. The Western Canadian Insulin Pump Centre will help make this form of therapy more accessible to patients.

Frequently Asked Questions


What is an insulin pump?

An insulin pump is a small motorized, battery-powered device that delivers insulin through a small catheter inserted under the skin.

These devices can be programmed to deliver insulin at various rates throughout the day by slow continuous infusion (the basal rate) and in larger quantities over a short time in preparation for meals (bolus). The pump is worn continuously and the user must measure glucose values throughout the day to monitor the effect of the pump and to determine meal dosages; the pump does not do this automatically.

The safe operation of the pump requires education by a qualified pump instructor. This usually takes about 8 hours over a number of sessions. Therapy also requires education from a qualified dietitian to provide insights on the effects of food on insulin requirements, as well as carbohydrate counting. Pump therapy should be supervised by a medical practitioner, usually an endocrinologist with training and expertise in pump therapy.


Why go on a pump?

Pump therapy has been shown to be superior to conventional therapy in the treatment of Type 1 diabetes. Studies have shown long-term benefit with this form of therapy (Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT)). Some studies have also shown improvement in the ability to sense low glucose levels (hypoglycemic unawareness), greater flexibility in lifestyle and improved quality of life.


Is a pump right for me?

This is a personal decision. Your success with using an insulin pump depends on the following:

  1. Motivation to improve your diabetes management
  2. Being prepared to test your blood glucose frequently
  3. Have had basic education with regards to diet
  4. You need to recognize that the pump is not a cure, merely a device to help manage your diabetes better.


Do I need a doctor overseeing my pump start?

Yes! Insulin Pump Therapy (IPT) is a very technical way to deliver insulin physiologically. Pump trainers are superb at starting people on IPT but ongoing responsibility of IPT must rest with you and a health care provider with IPT experience, usually an endocrinologist.


Do I need to test my blood sugars when I go on a pump?

Absolutely! All pumpers will need to continue to use their usual glucose meters. Most of these meters have software programs to allow useful interpretation of data that can be downloaded onto a computer.

What pumps are available in Canada?

There are several brands available in Canada. The centre is familiar with all types of pumps and these are listed in alphabetical order.


Who pays for the pump?
  1. Pump coverage differs from province to province. Recently, Ontario has approved payment for pump therapy for all age groups. Currently in British Columbia, pumps are covered by BC’s medical plan for youths only, 18 years and under.
  2. By using your Disability Tax Credit (which can go back 10 years) you may have funds available to pay for your pump.
    Please download the Canadian Revenue Agency Disability Tax Credit form here.
  3. Once the user has decided on a specific brand, contact should be made with the company. Most have helpful services to encourage third party payment for those with extended benefits, or can individualize payment plans.


What are the costs of Pump Therapy?

Insulin pump companies will cover the cost of the initial training on a new pump. Canadian residents with a physician referral will see the Endocrinologist at no charge.

There may be a fee for those who want to be seen outside of usual clinic hours.

If you would like to meet with a certified Diabetes Educator to discuss your decision you can. There will be a $75 charge for this service.

If you would like to meet with a Dietitian, who is also a pump trainer, to learn and/or review carbohydrate counting and meal planning, this is available at a $75 fee.

Pump companies have excellent services to provide you with specific information regarding coverage entitlement from your private insurance plan.

Please contact us to receive a list of insulin pump representatives.


Can I get a tax deduction for going on a pump?

Diabetes is an expensive disease. The government of Canada now allows for a Disability Tax Credit which will provide tax relief for patients on pumps. Print and complete the form below with attention to pages 7 and 9. The form must be signed by your doctor. You may be able to deduct past years and we recommend discussing this with a tax advisor.

ask us

Select to open PDF form.


What is CGMS (Continuous Glucose Monitoring System)?

There are now devices that will continually test glucose. The glucose values are transmitted to a receiver the size of a cellphone, which can be kept on a belt or in a pocket. This allows the user to look at glucose values in real time and to assess trends in glucose values. In addition, data can be downloaded to a computer for more detailed analysis.


How do I get started?

No referrals are necessary however you should be under supervision of an endocrinologist or physician who is familiar with Insulin Pump Therapy.

We encourage you to contact the different pump companies and have a sales representative come to you to demonstrate their product. This will help you decide which model is best for you.

Once you have purchased your pump, contact the Pump Centre to set up your initial training appointment.

The centre will provide you a convenient time to be started on therapy with insulin dosages monitored by your doctor.


What if I am a new referral?

Please fill out this questionnaire before your first appointment.
It can be sent in by mail, fax, email or brought with you to your appointment.


Is there a follow-up program?

Yes. The teaching staff will be available by phone, fax, or email for 1 month after the pump start.

There is also a comprehensive follow – up program for established pump users.

Is there a service I can follow-up with my blood sugars?
What is carb counting?
  1. Carbohydrate counting is adding up the amount of carbohydrates in grams in your meal/snack to help you decide on an insulin dosage for that meal/snack.
  2. It also involves a method to adjust your blood glucose level to a healthy target.
  3. If you are not yet familiar with carbohydrate counting, a visit to your local diabetes centre may be helpful.
  4. Is carbohydrate counting absolutely necessary? No, you can use other techniques to establish insulin dosages.


How do I upload my blood sugars using an Internet Blood Glucose Monitoring System (IBGMS)?

If you are using Carelink, you can watch a movie explaining how to do it.




ask us

Can't find what you're looking for? Ask us.
We're committed to responding to your questions within 4 days of receiving your communication.