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Quebec to restrict neonicotinoids and atrazine pesticides

Nov. 23, 2015, Quebec – David Heurtel, Quebec's minister of sustainable development, environment and the fight against climate change has unveiled the Quebec Pesticide Strategy 2015-2018, which sets out the major directions and goals that will guide government action to protect public health, pollinators and the environment in the coming years.

The strategy also aims at reducing the use of pesticides and, in cases where this cannot be avoided, favouring pesticides that present the lowest risk to health and the environment, particularly in urban and agricultural settings.

The changes proposed by the strategy will be subject to partner consultations that will clarify and improve the future legislative and regulatory amendments, according to a government press release. 

"The government will move forward quickly to implement the strategy by tabling a Draft Bill to modernize the Pesticides Act. Among other measures, the legislation will provide supervision for the use of seeds treated with neonicotinoids and add monetary administrative penalties for infractions," the press release added. 

The strategy also seeks to:

  • amend the Pesticides Management Code by tightening conditions of use, and
  • increase accountability by ensuring that users of highest-risk pesticides pay a bigger share of related environmental and health costs (guidelines to be published in the summer of 2016).

The strategy focuses on pesticides deemed of highest risk, such as neonicotinoids. It will ensure that the use of all highest-risk pesticides is justified in advance by an agronomist in 100 per cent of cases, so as to limit their use on crops. This restrictive measure goes much further than the regulatory amendments adopted by Ontario last July.

In urban environments, the Quebec Pesticide Strategy will aim at reducing the population’s risk of exposure. The number of pesticides banned for use on plants (lawns, trees and shrubs) in urban areas will be tripled, minimum distance will be required when applying pesticides near inhabited areas, and certification requirements will be raised for pesticide users, including exterminators.

An English summary of the strategy's measures can be found here, and the full strategy is detailed in French here.