On Earth Day 2014, the Manitoba government introduced legislation that will ban the sale and use of certain cosmetic pesticides. People use cosmetic pesticides to control lawn and garden weeds but they can often have harmful effects on the environment. This legislation, when enacted, will reduce Manitobans’ exposure to toxic pesticides and protect people, pets and wildlife populations from serious health and environmental risks.

In 2011, when the Manitoba Round Table for Sustainable Development urged the province to ban the use of cosmetic pesticides near water and “all urban and rural areas.” Ecojustice lawyer Kaitlyn Mitchell, who was born and raised in Manitoba, was already following the issue. She published an op-ed, Dandelions aren’t dangerous, in the Winnipeg Free Press and began working with a wide range of groups, including the Canadian Association of Physicians for the environment and Cosmetic Pesticide Ban Manitoba.

Ecojustice shared information about the campaign and helped dispel myths about similar cosmetic pesticide bans in other provinces and municipalities. Kaitlyn also consulted with Gord MacKintosh, Manitoba’s Minister of Conservation and Water Stewardship, about what strong legislation would need to include to have an impact.

Why was Ecojustice involved?

Reducing our exposure to toxic pesticides is an important, precautionary measure that protects people’s health, especially children’s. Recent medical and scientific literature show links between exposure to pesticides and serious illnesses, including reproductive problems, Alzheimer’s disease and several forms of cancer, Parkinson’s disease and childhood leukemia.

We believe that strong laws like cosmetic pesticides bans can protect us, as well as pets and wildlife, from the harms associated with the use of toxic chemicals. One year after Quebec enacted a similar ban, the number of households using chemical pesticides plunged to four per cent. That same year, Statistics Canada reported that 43 per cent of Manitoba households had used pesticides.

What does this victory mean?

When this legislation becomes law in 2015, Manitobans will join people in six provinces (Quebec, Ontario, P.E.I., New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland & Labrador) who are living in healthier environments because of a cosmetic pesticide ban.

It will be an offence to buy, sell or use any of the chemicals prohibited under the law and offenders may be subject to fines.

Staff:
Kaitlyn Mitchell, Lawyer and Regional Program Director (Eastern Canada)

Pierre Sadik, Manager of Law and Policy