The Federal Commissioner for the Environment and Sustainable Development (“Commissioner”) tabled her audit findings on January 26, 2016 of the management of pesticides by Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulator Agency (“PMRA”). The Commissioner reviewed PMRA’s efforts to protect Canadians and the Environment from the unacceptable risks associated with the use of pesticides. The report concluded
With respect to conditional registrations, re-evaluations, special reviews, and cancellations of registrations … the Agency had not always acted in a timely manner to fulfill its statutory objective of preventing unacceptable risks to the heath of Canadians and the environment from the use of pesticides.
The Commissioner found that eight of nine pesticide products conditionally registered for over a decade are neonicotinoids that are believed of being a risk to bees and other pollinators and negatively impact the environment – both soil and groundwater. The Commission found that the PMRA had failed to assess the cumulative effects of the pesticides on human health, despite being required to do so by legislation.
The report is critical of the PMRA for not immediately cancelling the registration of numerous pesticides despite determining that they pose an unacceptable risk to Canadians and/or their environment. The report indicated that the PMRA took between four and eleven years to remove pesticides from the market, resulting in unnecessary and unacceptable exposure to workers, the public, and the environment.
John Bennett of Friends of the Earth Canada stated, “The audit findings confirm our worst fear that the PMRA delivers on industry interests and not those of people and the environment.”
The Commissioner’s report likely had an impact on the decision of the PMRA to end the practice of conditional pesticide registrations, as announced in February.