Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 12, 2008
Quebec, Ont. Put the cap on pesticides
Government also gives heads up instructions on how to survive upcoming disasters
By SUZANNE ELSTON
On April 22 - Earth Day - the Ontario government made good on its promise to enact a provincial ban on the cosmetic use of pesticides.
When Bill 64 is passed, Ontario will become the second province in Canada to have such sweeping legislation. Quebec has already taken this brave step forward.
Learning from the lessons already learned in Quebec, the Ontario bill has vastly extended the list of targeted chemicals, making it one of the toughest pieces of legislation in North America. Unlike municipal bylaws, which can only limit the use of pesticides, Bill 64 will also restrict their sale. The move will replace a variety of bylaws already in communities across Ontario where the cosmetic use of pesticides is banned.
The government intends to move quickly on the bill and the ban will likely take effect as early as next spring.
Critics have already taken pains to point out the legislation doesn't go far enough because it exempts agriculture, forestry and golf courses. It's important to note that this was never the intent of the legislation. It targets cosmetic use only. It's expected that legislation will be forthcoming specific to golf courses.
Other applications, such as agricultural and pest management are already carefully controlled. Given the mounting pressure to minimize the public's exposure to these chemicals, these applications will also face increasing scrutiny and further controls.
This is a big step for Ontario and one that should not go unrecognized. It is also a rare and encouraging example of a government that has actually listened to what its voters want. Forty-four per cent of Ontarians currently live in communities that have enacted pesticide bans.
"Many municipalities have already shown leadership in banning or restricting cosmetic-use pesticides. We're extending that protection to all families wherever they live," said Environment Minister John Gerretsen.
"Our generation is becoming more and more aware of the potential risks in our environment, not only to our health, but to our children's health. That's why we're taking action on behalf of the next generation of Ontarians, and reducing their exposure to chemicals," said Premier Dalton McGuinty.
On a related note, public health and safety is the focus of Emergency Preparedness Week in Canada, May 4 to 10. As climate change continues to make extraordinary weather events the new normal, flooding, prolonged power outages, and water and food shortages will also become the norm.
Add to this list the potential for man-made environmental disasters such as nuclear accidents, chemical releases and acts of terrorism. Don't forget to add health emergencies like infectious disease outbreaks that are also predicted to increase.
As one public official warned, "It's not a question of if, but when." Emergency Preparedness Week encourages Canadians to be ready to cope on their own for at least 72 hours in the event of a disaster.
Everyone is encouraged to follow three simple steps:
If all this seems like a daunting task, Public Safety Canada has a great Get Prepared website that can walk you through all three steps.
It also offers a tremendous number of resources and guides - everything from What To Do brochures to Natural Hazards poster map.
You should also take the time to investigate local emergency preparedness plans. All local governments are now required to have plans in place to assist residents at the community level. For more information, contact your local fire department.
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