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Pesticide Act and Regulations

Amendments to the Ontario Pesticide Act and Regulations

The Ontario government, further to its consultation on changes to the Pesticide Act and Regulations, announced regulatory changes that will occur in a phased approach. 

Restrictions related to the use and sale of NNI-treated seeds will come into effect immediately.

Amendments related to Ontario’s classification process, exterminator licensing, permitting, and the cosmetic pesticides ban, will come into effect May 1, 2020. Changes related to farmer training and certification, vendor licensing, as well as increasing operator insurance coverage to reflect current market products will come into effect January 1, 2021 to ensure sufficient transition time.

Effective May 1, 2020:
Ontario’s provincial classification of pesticides will now align with the federal government’s pesticide categories, as other provinces do. Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA), under the authority of the Pest Control Products Act, registers pesticides after completing a rigorous review of scientific studies on potential impacts on human health and the environment. Ontario will maintain its general regulatory requirements, including licensing and permitting, realigned to the federal categories.

The current requirement for a permit to aerially apply Class 2 pesticides is changed to a permit requirement to aerially apply Class B pesticides (Restricted class which is identified by the PMRA as being of higher concern), with the exception of a land extermination performed aerially using Bacillus thuringiensis serotype kurstaki (Btk) for the purpose of maintaining a tree canopy (i.e. to prevent the injury or death of trees caused by insects such as gypsy moths). This will maintain the status quo for municipalities and others that do not currently need a permit to use these pesticides.

The general cosmetic pesticides ban will be retained, including existing exceptions (e.g. golf courses, forestry, health and safety and other prescribed exceptions). A single list of allowed pesticides will replace the current classes. Provisions continue to prohibit the use of pesticides for cosmetic purposes unless the ministry director has determined that the pesticide (the active ingredient) is appropriate for use for a cosmetic purpose and has listed the active ingredient in a prescribed document. The criteria used to identify active ingredients to be added to the list will be the consistent with those currently used (e.g. naturally occurring, low toxicity) and will be prescribed in regulation.

Ontario remains one of only two provinces that restricts the use of neonicotinoid (NNI)-treated corn and soybean seeds. After 5 years of these restrictions, the ministry is adjusting administrative requirements on farmers and vendors. Changes retain necessary pest risk assessments and training for farmers, and retention of key sales data for vendors, while reducing duplicative requirements.

Effective January 1, 2021:
Farmers will continue to be exempt from the need for a licence to use Class B and C pesticides; however, a farmer would be required to be trained and certified to use Class B and C pesticides because these classes include higher hazard pesticides. 

Vendors will require a licence for the sale of Class D pesticides, with exemptions that would ensure that most of the products that have been available for sale without a licence can still be sold without a license. These exemptions would apply to pesticides that are Class D pesticides that are in a container of less than 1 L or 1 kg in size and are in a ready-to-use formulation, but would not apply to pesticides that require the purchaser to be given a handout explaining uses allowed under the cosmetic pesticide ban. 

Last updated April 29, 2020

Additional Information

For more information, please contact Rachelle Wood, Sr. Policy Advisor. [email protected], 519-767-4600 Ext. 1202