For years, Manitobans have been saying that the Environment Act makes it very ineffective to deal with weeds on their yards. Legislation has now been introduced which could change weed control for Manitobans.

Environment, Climate and Parks Minister Jeff Wharton says his government has introduced amendments that, if approved, would give Manitobans the flexibility to use federally approved cosmetic pesticides. The amendments would also expand the list of sensitive areas that would be protected from the application of cosmetic pesticides.

"Our government recognizes the need for a safe and responsible approach to using cosmetic pesticides," says Wharton. "We've heard from Manitobans and their concerns that current methods are ineffective. This legislation would help protect areas frequented by children and pets while allowing Manitobans to apply Health Canada approved products safely and minimize overall environmental impacts."

According to Wharton, the province launched a public consultation in order to gather feedback on the use of cosmetic pesticides. More than 60 per cent of respondents indicated the restrictions on the sale and usage of pesticides for cosmetic use were too strict. More than 70 per cent wanted to see the current restrictions reduced or rescinded.

Municipalities and other stakeholders asked for greater flexibility to have useable, aesthetic green spaces in communities notes Wharton. The legislation would allow the use of Health Canada-approved cosmetic pesticides in low-risk areas like boulevards, sidewalks, rights-of-way and fairgrounds. Manitobans would also have the ability to apply federally approved pesticides on their lawns.

"The Association of Manitoba Municipalities (AMM) supports the decision to align with federal regulations and rigorous Health Canada review processes," says Kam Blight, president for AMM. "Aligning with federal regulations will allow municipalities to effectively manage weed control programs while mitigating financial pressures on municipal budgets."

According to Blight, when municipalities were forced to change their spraying practices, their costs went up tenfold.

Wharton says Manitoba's protections would go further than those of other prairie provinces by prohibiting cosmetic pesticide use in sensitive areas. New provisions would restrict pesticide use in municipal playgrounds, dog parks, picnic areas and provincial parks. The legislation would maintain protections for schools, child-care centres and hospitals.

The minister notes the province is committed to protecting the environment and relying on Health Canada approvals to inform decision-making.

"Health Canada approves all cosmetic pesticides used in Canada, which must meet strict health and safety measures," says Wharton. "The federal government has a robust approval process that assesses the risk of pesticides to human health and the environment, and they have deemed products safe when used appropriately. Manitoba will continue to rely on Health Canada to evaluate pesticide products and all pesticides sold and used in Manitoba must be federally approved under the Pest Control Products Act."

"Manitoba Nursery Landscape Association represents the horticulture industry that grows, installs and maintains the green infrastructure in our province," says David Hinton, government relations chairperson, Manitoba Nursery Landscape Association. "We support the Province of Manitoba's decision to rely on Health Canada for science-based regulation and information on the products used to protect the health of Manitoba green spaces."

To find out if a specific pesticide is authorized for use in Canada, click here.