Lake Ontario Waterkeeper's Comment Re: Legislative Amendments to the Pesticides Act to ban the use and sale of pesticides for cosmetic purposes EBR # 010-3348
Download Waterkeeper's comment here.
The Ministry of the Environment states that the â€œpurpose of the Bill is to amend the Pesticides Act to prohibit the use and sale of certain pesticides that may be used for cosmetic purposesâ€. This Bill is meant to bring uniformity across the province to pesticide control.
The ongoing struggle to keep toxins out of our waterways is one of Waterkeeper's primary con- cerns. The Great Lakes, four of which are in Ontario, provide drinking water for the surrounding 40 million residents. The chemical toxins that we apply to our lawns and gardens, agricultural lands, and forests run directly into our drinking water, leading to environmental harm and health concerns. Waterkeeper supports every initiative intended to reduce the introduction of toxic chemi- cals into our environment.
For these reasons, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper was enthusiastic when the provincial government provided notice of its intent to introduce a cosmetic pesticides ban in Ontario in January of 2008. Waterkeeper can no longer support the province's proposal, however, given the amendments released for public comment on April 22, 2008.
Waterkeeper has serious concerns about the latest amendments to the Pesticides Act, in particular Section 7.1(5), which renders municipal by-laws inoperative. The creation of maximum standards as opposed to minimum standards for municipalities is a regressive move for environmental protection. Communities will be prevented in the future from adopting bolder initiatives regarding toxic chemical bans, being forced instead to adhere to the provinces modest initiatives.
Municipalities have fought long, hard legal battles to gain the right to enact pesticide bans (114957 Canada LtÃ©e v. Hudson (Town), 2001). Thirty-two municipalities in Ontario already have pesticide bans, accounting for half the population of Ontario (Trosow, 2008). Efforts at the community level provided the impetus for this province-wide ban; to limit this community-based momentum would be a disservice to those movements and actually offer citizens of Ontario less protection from pes- ticide pollution than they currently enjoy.
The creation of a ceiling prohibition is particularly concerning given how far reaching the exemptions to the ban are (See Section 7.1(2)). Presently, agriculture, forestry, golf courses, promotion of public health or safety, and â€œother prescribed purposesâ€ are all excluded from the prohibition. The addition of this last exemption creates a loophole by which even more uses may be exempt from the Pesticides Act in the future.
For these reasons, Waterkeeper recommends against the adoption of the amended Pesticides Act.
REFERENCES Trosow, Samuel. (April 24, 2008). Municipal Pesticide By-Laws Threatened by Flawed Provincial Bill. Retrieved on May 18, 2008 at http://samtrosow.ca/content/view/48/9/ 114957 Canada LtÃ©e (Spraytech, SociÃ©tÃ© d'arrosage) v. Hudson (Town),  2 S.C.R. 241, 2001 SCC 40.