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e-2738 (Environment)

Initiated by Sheryl McCumsey from Powell River, British Columbia

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Minister of Health

  • We do not consent to and strongly oppose the use of herbicides as well as surfactants applied by the forestry industry which is detrimental to the environment, local flora and fauna, and water sources; and
  • Herbicides are being used by the forestry industry to prevent the natural return of the forest’s biodiversity, increasing the risk to forest fires and in turn accelerating climate change, risking a loss of economic value, threatening communities and the overall health of Canadians.
We, the undersigned, the electors of Canada, call upon the Minister of Health to ban the commercial use of herbicides in the forestry industry in Canada, with the exception of addressing invasive species that are well documented.

Response by the Minister of Health

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Jennifer O'Connell

The Government of Canada is committed to the health and safety of Canadians, their environment and their food supply. Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) will continue diligently ensuring that only pest control products meeting our stringent health and environmental standards will be approved for use in Canada. Pesticides are regulated under the Pest Control Products Act (PCPA), which is administered by Health Canada, to protect Canadians and their environment from risks associated with the use of pesticides. If the use of a pesticide poses unacceptable risks to human health or the environment, it is not registered or otherwise authorized for use in Canada.

Before a pesticide is allowed to be used or sold in Canada, it must undergo a rigorous scientific assessment process that provides reasonable certainty that no harm, including negative impacts to forestry biodiversity, will occur when pesticides are used according to label directions. Results from more than 200 types of scientific studies must be submitted to determine whether the pesticide would have any negative effect on people, animals (including birds, mammals, beneficial insects and other wildlife), or plants, including organisms in the soil and water.

The application of herbicides by provincial authorities for the management of their forests can only be done in accordance with the approved label. For example, it is only permitted to use glyphosate within the first 5 years after harvest, either prior to planting new trees (site preparation) or after seedlings have been planted (conifer release, stand thinning). As such, a forest cultivation site would receive one, or at most, two treatments early on in a 50 to 80 year cultivation cycle.

Federal, provincial/territorial and municipal governments have shared responsibilities in regulating pesticides. While Health Canada authorizes pesticides, it does not determine whether a product should or will be used (for example, for forestry management or any other purpose). Permitting or restricting the use of federally-approved pesticides falls under the authority of the province, for both provincial crown land and privately held land within the province. The decision to use an herbicide in forestry operations would be included as part of a forest management plan. While there are some differences from province to province, the approval of plans generally fall under the jurisdiction of a provincial natural resources department.

Provincial responsibilities for pesticides generally also include regulating the sale, use, transportation, storage and disposal of pesticides. Provinces also conduct compliance monitoring that complements federal compliance programs, and issue spray licences and/or permits to pesticide applicators, operators and vendors. For example, the use of herbicides in forestry management may require the use of aerial application. Pesticide regulators, generally located within provincial environment departments, issue site specific permits when any pesticide is applied by air. These provincial approvals are designed to complement the federal pesticide regulatory system.

Open for signature
July 16, 2020, at 8:14 a.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
November 13, 2020, at 8:14 a.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Rachel Blaney (North Island—Powell River)
April 16, 2021 (Petition No. 432-00816)
Government response tabled
May 31, 2021
Photo - Rachel Blaney
North Island—Powell River
New Democratic Party Caucus
British Columbia