Canadians young and old should be able to spend time outdoors without being exposed to toxic pesticides that pose serious health risks. To protect the health of people, pets and the environment, many Canadian cities and six provinces have moved to ban the use of non-essential pesticides on lawns, gardens and public green space.

Scientific research is showing that exposure to pesticides increases people’s risk of developing various forms of cancer, reproductive problems and neurological illness. Such substances can also cause serious damage to the health of ecosystems and species in our rivers and lakes.

A 2007 study by the David Suzuki Foundation found that more than 6,000 cases of pesticide poisonings are reported in Canada each year. Of those, 2,832 cases involved children.

Recent developments suggest that children and families in Manitoba and British Columbia may soon benefit from a ban on toxic pesticides.

Gord Mackintosh, Manitoba’s Conservation Minister, wants to protect the environment and the health of Manitobans. “Manitobans are entitled to the same protections most other Canadians enjoy,” he said in an article published in the Winnipeg Free Press. We at Ecojustice agree. Last summer, we called for the Manitoba government to protect its citizens with a cosmetic pesticide ban (Find out why). Mackintosh plans to consult with stakeholders and members of the public before introducing legislation in the fall or early 2013.

Ecojustice is also encouraged by recent efforts in British Colombia. Health organizations including the Canadian Cancer Society, the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, the Lung Association, the Public Health Association of BC and the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment are endorsing a campaign urging British Columbians to support a lawn and garden pesticide ban.

Ecojustice envisions a country where cosmetic pesticide bans protect adults and children in every province and territory and prevent harmful insecticides, herbicides and fungicides from contaminating our air, water, soil and food.

When children, the most vulnerable among us, are threatened by something our governments can prevent, the time to act is not tomorrow but now.