On April 22, the Ontario government presented Bill 64 to ban the use and sale of pesticides for cosmetic purposes. The Bill has some excellent features that could put Ontario in the forefront of protection of the public against pesticides, and RNAO welcomed its introduction:
• It would ban the use and sales of pesticides for cosmetic purposes.
• This ban would cover residential, industrial, commercial, institutional, municipal and provincial properties, including rural residential properties.
• The Minister of the Environment announced that the implementation period would be swift, with the ban to be in effect for the 2009 growing season.
We are concerned about certain features of the Bill in its proposed form:
• The Bill would exempt golf courses, while RNAO can only justify exemptions for public health purposes.
• As presently written, the Bill would empower the government to introduce other exemptions by regulation. This is in our view a dangerous and unnecessary provision.
• The Premier stated at the press conference that municipalities will be allowed to exceed the provincial standard, making the provincial regulations a floor but not a ceiling. However, the government now is retracting from this statement and the Bill as presently written could take that right away from municipalities. RNAO is most concerned with this because municipalities have always had a leadership role in pesticides and toxics.
• The government has released a list of pesticides that could be banned from use or sale for cosmetic purposes. The list does not include all pesticides of concern (e.g., Roundup). A whitelist of minimally toxic substances would be preferable. A precautionary approach is essential when determining which substances would be allowed.
• RNAO is also seeking assurance that government will provide the needed resources to implement the new legislation, including funding for education and enforcement.
RNAO has been formally committed to supporting a ban on the cosmetic use of pesticides since 2000, when a resolution was unanimously passed at the 2000 RNAO AGM. RNAO and its members have worked with community partners in municipal pesticide bylaw campaigns since that time with great success. In the past 18 months, RNAO has joined with many health and environment organizations to take the campaign to the provincial level, and the provincial government has responded.
We urge you to help us realize the potential of this proposed pesticide law by taking two short actions:
1) Write Premier Dalton McGuinty and to Minister Gerretsen in support of a strong pesticide ban. Fill in your name and email below to send a letter directly from our website. You can send our sample letter as is, or modify it as you wish. Please make sure to sign your name and RN title at the bottom of the letter.
2) Tell the Ministry of the Environment that you are an RN, and that you support strong legislation banning the use and sale of pesticides for cosmetic purposes. Please note the deadline of May 22. You can do this by going to http://www.ebr.gov.on.ca/ERS-WEB-External/displaynoticecontent.do?noticeId=MTAzMjgx&statusId=MTU0MzIy&language=en . Here are key messages you could send:
• I am an RN, and overall, I strongly support a ban on the use and sale of pesticides for cosmetic purposes. I am pleased with the proposed timely deadline of 2009, and am pleased that all areas of the province will receive the same protection.
• Please only allow exemptions to the ban for public health purposes (as determined by the Medical Officer of Health), and not for such uses as golf courses. Please remove clauses that would allow for further exemptions at a future date.
• Please preserve municipalities’ rights to take protective legislative measures against pesticides that go beyond those delivered by the province.
• Please follow the precautionary principle developing the list of banned or allowed substances. An “inclusion list” or “white list” of allowed substances would be more protective than a blacklist of banned substances. An efficient process for adding or removing substances from lists should be specified.
• Please ensure that sufficient resources will be devoted to implementing the legislation, including education and enforcement.
This measure to protect public health is very popular, but our voices must be heard in order for it to be successful. Please encourage colleagues and friends to take a few minutes to register their support. Ontario is blessed with this formalized mechanism for public input into key environmental decision-making, and we have to make it work.
Please keep posted for more action alerts, as there will be need to contact MPPs as the legislation works its way through the House. We have gotten this far through the concerted work of many RNs and others over a number of years, and with your help, we’re getting there!This action alert has now concluded. Thank you for participating.