Province Must Maintain Existing Pesticide Legislation to Continue Protecting Expectant Mothers, Children and Pets

The Pallister government must preserve legislation that reduces the risk to children and pets of exposure to synthetic pesticides for non-essential purposes, NDP MLA Rob Altemeyer said today.

“The current law reduces the risks of exposure to synthetic chemical pesticides, and was introduced after a lengthy consultation with Manitobans,” Altemeyer said. “Let’s not turn back the clock. Let’s keep these strong protections in place for expectant mothers, our children and our pets.”

When the former NDP government held consultations in 2012, there were more than 2,200 submissions. About 64 per cent of the submissions supported increasing restrictions on synthetic chemical pesticides, said Altemeyer, who is the NDP critic for the Environment and Green Jobs.

A report released today by Physicians for the Environment that examines best practices across the country gave Manitoba the third best rating in Canada for adopting a ban on using herbicides on lawns, but states “unfortunately the current government in Manitoba is considering withdrawing this law.”

Manitoba’s own deputy chief provincial officer of health advised that “the health benefits of reducing unnecessary use of cosmetic pesticides outweigh the risk. It is prudent to reduce the risk of pesticide exposure to pregnant women and children.”

“We urge the Pallister government to listen to the health professionals, who have clearly said that reducing exposure to these chemicals makes sense,” Altemeyer said. “Much of the country is already pursuing this path. This government needs to get with the times and respect the wishes of families.”

The NDP legislation, introduced in 2013, prevents the use of synthetic chemical pesticides on residential lawns, schoolyards, hospital grounds and child care centres for cosmetic weed control. In place of those, it allows the use of biological products approved by Health Canada.

The legislation includes exemptions for agriculture, forestry, sod farms, golf courses and for the protection of public health or safety. The legislation also allows these pesticides to be used for controlling poisonous plants and invasive species as well as for the maintenance of specialty turf and professional sports fields.

“The health of families must be the number one priority of government,” Altemeyer said. “We hope and trust that Manitobans will speak out against any misguided attempt to undo these important protections.”

Manitobans can respond to the current government’s survey on pesticide legislation at: