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Quebec, when was the last time you looked at your pesticide policy?

Actu - Pesticides, enfant espionnant dans l'herbe

In 2003, we applauded Quebec for adopting the Pesticides Management Code, the first regulation of its kind in Canada.

But that was then, this is now. 

When it comes to regulating the sale and use of cosmetic pesticides to protect human and environmental health, Quebec has been overtaken by Ontario and Nova Scotia.

This according to the new Pesticide Free? Oui! progress report from the David Suzuki Foundation and Equiterre, comparing provincial cosmetic pesticide bans.

"Quebec would do well to update the Code. Since taking effect, Quebec’s list of banned pesticides has remained unchanged, while Ontario and Nova Scotia have adopted stronger policies and now prohibit more pesticides than Quebec," says Sidney Ribaux, executive director of Equiterre.

Some recommendations:

  • offer a credible list of lower risk products permitted for use in public and private areas (both Ontario and Nova Scotia do a good job of this)
  • extend the policy beyond lawns to other aspects of landscaping
  • prohibit a larger number of pesticides
  • prohibit the cosmetic use of pesticides indoors
  • maintain a mechanism to classify new pesticides
  • extend the scope of cosmetic pesticide bans to include golf courses, as per the recent Danish example

"Too many people believe they are protected by the Pesticides Management Code. However, the Code is far too weak and Quebec now needs to catch up. Ten years ago, we were pioneers in the movement to raise awareness on the need for a province-wide ban on cosmetic pesticides; it’s now time to raise the bar and reclaim our leadership position," explains Edith Smeesters, ecological horticulture consultant for Equiterre.

"Many of our members experience adverse health effects upon exposure to pesticides. This restricts their quality of life during the summer as they have to stay away from sprayed areas and cannot take part in outdoor activities due to pesticide use. The Pesticide Code of Quebec was put into effect as a health protection measure. Keeping this in mind, Quebec must now strengthen the Code to better protect the health of vulnerable populations,” states Michel Gaudet, Vice-President and spokesperson for the Association de santé environnementale du Québec (ASEQ).