Letter to Editor: Time for a cosmetic pesticide ban

Why is it taking so long for our provincial government to make a decision regarding banning the sale and use of pesticides for cosmetic purposes ?

Close to 24 million Canadians, or 79.6% of Canada’s total population are presently benefiting from enhanced protection from unwanted exposure to synthetic lawn and garden pesticides This figure includes the best provincial protection provided under Ontario’s Cosmetic Pesticides Ban Act, 2008 and Quebec’s 2003 Pesticide Management Code as well as Nova Scotia’s, New Brunswick’s and PEI’s Pesticide Acts .

Our former premier Mr Williams did an excellent job in promoting Newfoundland and Labrador as being a have province – no longer a poor cousin to the rest of Canada. However, on the issue of controlling and regulating environmental contaminants such as pesticides we are lagging far behind nationally.

Back in 2003 the Province’s Wellness Advisory Council prepared and submitted recommendations to the Minister of Health and Community Services which led to the development of the government policy document Achieving Health and Wellness: Provincial Wellness Plan. One of the eight Wellness Priorities “ in this plan was to create and maintain “environments which promote good public health” involving “ those aspects of human health and disease that are determined by physical,chemical, and biological factors in the environment such as contaminants in food, air, soil and water.”

Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador, the Cancer Society, the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association and other organizations had been asking the former minister of Environment and Conservation, Charlene Johnson, for a ban since 2009. However this is far from a relatively new issue. Over the past twelve years there have been many requests to our provincial health and environment ministers from health and environmental organizations and from individual citizens asking for improved legislation and, regulation of pesticides.

Over a month ago the Environment Minister, Ross Wiseman stated publicly that:

“I don’t want to put a day or a week on it, but I appreciate the length of time this has been in the public domain and discussed,” Wiseman said. “I appreciate too that there’s an upcoming summer, a time when these pesticides are used.” He also said said ‘he hopes to bring forward a recommendation to cabinet in the very near future”.

Well the days, weeks, months and years are passing by and it looks like another spring and summer will soon be upon us when we– our children, grandchildren, and pets will again be exposed to cosmetic pesticide contaminants in food, air, soil and water. But maybe, hopefully, wishfully the Ministers of Health and Environment are now working together on this issue and they will introduce in this session of the house new legislation similar to or better than Ontario’s. This would also be a start to working on a priority in the provincial government’s Wellness Plan in promoting wellness through better protecting our environment, and uss from exposure to toxic pesticides.

Bob Diamond

This letter to the editor was originally published in the Telegram on April 2. It is republished with permission of the author.