Earlier this summer we reported that Ontario Pesticide Act prosecutions have become infrequent since the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOE) stopped having specialized pesticide enforcement staff. Now that the season is soon to change over, we decided to take a look at the year’s violation reports to see if MOE’s intentions with respect to pesticide enforcement have changed.
In June 2008, the Ontario legislature passed the Cosmetic Pesticide Ban Act which amended the provincial Pesticide Act to ban the use and sale of lawn and garden pesticides. Permitted pesticides for managing lawn and garden pests include Borax, soap and corn gluten meal. The Pesticide Act also requires those who apply pesticides to have a license, as well as a permit to apply particular pesticides that may be harmful to human health or the environment. Effectiveness of the act has been questioned; it’s been reported by the CBC that Canadians are cross-border shopping in the U.S. to buy lawn and garden pesticides no longer permitted in Ontario. Ecojustice put out an informative paper in 2012 busting the myths of cosmetic pesticides.
So far in 2014, the MOE has only reported a total of seven pesticide violations. The violations tend to focus on the failure to carry licenses and permits, rather than the illegal application of banned pesticides. The most recent was on August 6, 2014. An individual, Paul Mellor, was fined $1,500, plus a victim fine surcharge of $365 for applying a pesticide on residential lawns without a valid license. Mellor had been warned by a provincial officer that he did not possess the proper license. He falsely claimed he was acting under the licence of someone else.
In June, a Middlesex landscaping owner was fined $2,800, plus a victim fine surcharge of $700 for applying a banned Class 9 cosmetic pesticide (Killex) without a license. The company was reported by MOE to be the subject of a ministry planned drive around inspection looking for landscaping companies illegally applying pesticides in the London area.
In May, an Amherstburg company, its president and two employees were fined $7,000 for applying a banned cosmetic pesticide on residential property in Windsor and for failing to display the appropriate warning signs. The ministry received complaints of banned pesticides being applied to properties located in Windsor and, as a result, attended the sites and took grass samples. Signs had been placed at each site stating that “Fiesta” lawn weed control had been applied to the property (which is approved for cosmetic use in Ontario) but test results showed the presence of 2,4-D, a banned cosmetic pesticide. The company and its president were fined a total of $6,000, plus victim fine surcharge totalling $1,500, and the employees were each fined $500 plus victim fine surcharges of $115.
In April, a St. Catherines couple were fined $7,000 plus victim fine surcharges of $1,750 for illegally applying a pesticide at their pick-your-own blueberry farm. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency conducted an inspection at the farm. At the time, there were members of the public picking blueberries. The officer who attended the site determined that the pesticide Guthion had been applied to the blueberries, and that Guthion is not registered for use on blueberries, but only applied to raspberries, cranberries and blackberries.
News of a MOE drive-around looking for pesticide violations in London may indicate that MOE is focusing on such violations more, but seven violations over a summer is not much. Let’s hope that is because enforcement isn’t needed, and the cosmetic pesticide ban is doing it’s job to keep our children a little safer and our water cleaner. Studies will tell.