Legal and Regulatory Framework
Updating: July 2017
Pest control products imported, sold or used are regulated throughout the country by the Pest Control Products Act and its regulation. Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) is responsible for administering this legislation, registering pest control products, re-evaluating registered products and setting maximum residue limits in food.
On the one hand, any pest control product used, sold or imported in Canada, must be registered. Whether or not a product should be granted registration, is based upon a rigorous scientific assessment of health and environment considerations as well on its value (including efficacy). On the other hand, it is prohibited to use a pest control product without conforming to its label contents. Any application inconsistent with the label directions or limitations, is an offence according to the law, and may entail a risk for human health, the environment and/or both.
The new Pest Control Products Act aimed at modernizing legislation on pesticides came into force in 2006. The new act help better protect health and the environment, make more transparent the regulation system and strengthen the post-registration control of pesticides.
Since 1992, the Federal, Provincial, Territorial Committee on Pest Management and Pesticides of which Québec is a member, guides governments on how to manage their programs, policies, and on how to address issues concerning pesticides, and through its working groups, actively seeks solutions to common problems. Progresses have been made to harmonize programs and policies of federal, provincial and territorial governments regarding pesticides.
In Québec, pesticides sales and use are regulated by the Pesticides Act and, in complementary manner, by the Environment Quality Act. Laws and regulations stemming from these are administered by the Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques.
In 1986, Québec launched its "Politique pour une utilisation rationnelle des pesticides" which completed the draft bill on pesticides. Assented in 1987 and modified in 1993, Québec’s Pesticides Act was a complement to the federal legal framework (Table 1).
The Pesticides Act targets two major objectives:
The means selected to achieve these objectives focus mainly on promoting the analysis, assessment and control of the effects of the use of pesticides through specific activities intended to widen knowledge about these products (environmental monitoring, for example).
To contribute to the development of alternative solutions to the use of pesticides and promote these, the Ministère supports research efforts by funding projects and participating in the design and promotion of public information and outreach tools.
In addition, legislative and regulatory controls are among the means taken to ensure the competence of key users and to set practice guidelines. Under these controls, provisions are made to:
To clarify the mechanics of the Pesticides Act, the government enact in 1997 the Regulation respecting permits and certificates for the sale and use of pesticides, replacing the Regulation respecting pesticides, the Regulation respecting the application of pesticides on farm and, the Regulation respecting the application of pesticides in forests into force since 1988 (Table 2). In 1997, the Regulation respecting permits and certificates for the sale and use of pesticides came into force and enacted into law the majority of the Act to amend the Pesticides Act sections. Amended in 2003, the Regulation respecting permits and certificates for the sale and use of pesticides:
In March 2001, a focus group mandated to identify which means are appropriate to reduce dependency on the use of pesticides in urban areas, tabled its report in which one of the recommendations was the enactment of the Pesticides Management Code.
In force since 2003, the Pesticides Management Code introduces regulations to control the use and sale of pesticides in order to reduce pesticide exposure for people and the environment. Its regulatory stipulations especially target holders of permits and certificates, pesticide sales outlets as well as commercial and private users, including farmers and forest managers. Certain provisions address ordinary citizens. Childcare centres, elementary and secondary schools shall also be as free as possible from pesticides. .
Actions restraining the use of pesticides related to the Environment Quality Act enactment began in the 1980s. The Pesticides Act complemented these actions in 1987.
In accordance with the Environment Quality Act and its related regulations, certain projects are subject to environmental impact assessment and review procedures. Certain users must also obtain a certificate of authorization in compliance with this legislation. Standards ensure that drinking water is safe.
In accordance with the Regulation respecting environmental impact assessment and review, any program or project, involving aerial pesticide spraying for non-agricultural purposes over an area of 600 hectares or more, is subject to an assessment and examination process of impacts on the environment, including an impact study and eventually public consultations. This regulation does not apply to:
The Environment Quality Act requires that certain activities be carried out with an authorization from the Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs. The Regulation respecting the application of the Environment Quality Act specifies the type work involving pesticide application that requires a certificate of approval.
Directive 017 explains what to do and which information must be furnished to obtain a certificate of authorization for projects requiring the use of pesticides.
Since 2001, the Regulation respecting the quality of drinking water provides standards and controls regulating water quality for human consumption. Some drinking water distribution systems must be in compliance with standards applying to organic substances, including pesticides. In other words, water must not contain pesticides in a concentration greater than those indicated in this regulation.
Pesticide wastes, that is wastes consisting in whole or in part of pesticides or contaminated by such products, are regulated by the Environment Quality Act and are not subject to the Pesticides Act.
Since the early 1990s, numerous municipalities in Québec have enacted regulations to control pesticides (PDF, 26 Ko - French), to better protect citizens regarding their use. Municipalities exercise this right in accordance with the Municipal Code of Québec and the Cities and Towns Act. Moreover, in June 2001, the Supreme Court of Canada, in the case of Hudson, officially granted this city the power to regulate municipalities to ensure the welfare of its citizens and acknowledged that the federal, provincial and municipal jurisdictions complement each other regarding pesticides control.
The Pesticides Act defines the primacy of the Pesticides Management Code and the Regulation respecting permits and certificates for the sale and use of pesticides regarding municipal by-laws. The Pesticides Act provides that any provision of the provincial legislation prevails over any inconsistent provision of any by-law passed by a municipality or a metropolitan community. In fact the municipalities must make sure that such provisions are not inconsistent with the regulations related to the Pesticides Act. Lastly, municipal by-laws need not be authorized by the Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks before they are passed.