Youtube Video : Ontario Pesticide Ban – John Gerretsen – RNA – Health Canada

Gerretsen says 'Health Canada might say that these [toxic] products have an acceptable risk', Gerretsen also says 'there is still a risk.  Use the Precautionary Principle.  No risk for children'.  Gerretsen knows manufacturers will create toxic free products for the lawn one day, Puting a  [misguided] plan in place is a step in the right direction.

He obviously does not care about the Green Industry Failure that occurred because of this PLAN.

Relying on Registered Nurses Association and Gideon Forman to spread the word for him is really a misinformation campaign.



Some groups indicate that there is a "growing body of evidence suggesting a connection between pesticides and cancer". What is Health Canada doing about this?

Health Canada does not register pesticides that are known to cause cancer or other illnesses when used according to the label directions.

Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency is responsible for administering the Pest Control Products Act on behalf of the Minister of Health. Before a pesticide is allowed to be used or sold in Canada, it must undergo a rigorous scientific assessment process which provides reasonable certainty that no harm, including chronic effects such as cancer, will occur when pesticides are used according to label directions.

Under this pre-market approval process, results from more than 200 types of scientific studies must be submitted to determine if the pesticide would cause any negative effects to people, animals, birds, insects, plants, as well as on the soil and in the water. This assessment takes into consideration sensitive sub-groups, such as pregnant and nursing women, infants, children and seniors.

Additionally, Health Canada scientists review the scientific literature for studies which refer to pesticides. Health Canada recognizes the value of epidemiology studies in risk assessment. The most useful and relevant epidemiological studies are those that properly characterize exposure in terms of how the product is used.



Health Canada Precautionary Principle:

A Framework for the Application of Precaution in Science-Based Decision Making About Risk, 2003.1This framework provides guiding principles for the application of precaution to science-based decision making regarding federal regulatory activity designed to protect health, safety, and the environment and the conservation of natural resources.

This document acknowledges that governments can rarely act on the basis of full scientific certainty and they cannot guarantee zero risk. Therefore, governments need to address new and emerging risks and manage issues where there is significant scientific uncertainty.

The framework outlines five general principles of application, as follows:

  • The application of precaution is a legitimate and distinctive decision-making approach within risk management;
  • It is legitimate that decisions be guided by society’s chosen level of protection against risk;
  • Sound scientific information and its evaluation must be the basis for applying precaution; the scientific information base and responsibility for producing it may shift as knowledge evolves;
  • Mechanisms should exist for re-evaluating the basis for decisions and for providing a transparent process for further consideration; and
  • A high degree of transparency, clear accountability and meaningful public involvement are appropriate.

This framework also contains five principles for precautionary measures, which are as follows:

  • Precautionary measures should be subject to reconsideration, on the basis of the evolution of science, technology and society’s chosen level of protection;
  • Precautionary measures should be proportional to the potential severity of the risk being addressed and to society’s chosen level of protection;
  • Precautionary measures should be non-discriminatory and consistent with measures taken in similar circumstances;
  • Precautionary measures should be cost-effective, with the goal of generating (i) an overall net benefit for society at least cost, and (ii) efficiency in the choice of measures; and
  • Where more than one option reasonably meets the above characteristics, then the least trade-restrictive measure should be applied.

This Government of Canada document is intended to assist in achieving coherent and cohesive application of precaution to risk decision making where there is a lack of scientific certainty. Departmental and agency officials consider this framework and its guiding principles in decision making and to develop guidance for the application of precaution in their particular area. Health Canada has done this in part through the development of the “Health Canada Decision-Making Framework for Identifying, Assessing, and Managing Health Risks.2” This document recognizes that decisions are often made in the presence of considerable scientific uncertainty. A precautionary approach to decision making emphasizes the need to take timely and appropriately preventative action, even in the absence of a full scientific demonstration of cause and effect. A lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason not to take preventive measures when reasonable evidence indicates that a situation could cause a significant adverse health effect.

A precautionary approach is incorporated in Health Canada’s more recent legislation, such as the Pest Control Products Act, which states in Section 20 that:

“Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent adverse health impact or environmental degradation 3

In the Canadian Environmental Protection Act 1999 (CEPA) the following statement in the preamble gives guidance on the use of precaution:

“Whereas the Government of Canada is committed to implementing the precautionary principle that, where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.4

In addition, Part 1 of CEPA requires that the National Advisory Committee use a precautionary approach in its advice and recommendations, as is evidenced below:

“(1) For the purpose of enabling national action to be carried out and taking cooperative action in matters affecting the environment and for the purpose of avoiding duplication in regulatory activity among governments, the Minister shall establish a National Advisory Committee.

(1.1) In giving its advice and recommendations, the Committee shall use the precautionary principle.[emphasis added]

(2) The Committee shall consist of the following members:

(a) one representative for each of the Ministers;
(b) one representative of the government of each of the provinces; and
(c) subject to subsection (3), not more than six representatives of aboriginal governments, to be selected on the following regional basis…”

More importantly, in section 76.1, the Act requires that when the Ministers (Environment and Health) are conducting and interpreting the results of

a) a screening assessment;
b) a review of a decision of another jurisdiction; or
c) an assessment of a substance on the Priority Substance List they shall apply the precautionary principle.

Bill C-65 (Canada Consumer Product Safety Act) which has passed in the House of Commons and is currently in front of the Senate, contains the following statement in the preamble: “Whereas the Parliament of Canada recognizes that a lack of full scientific certainty is not to be used as a reason for postponing measures that prevent adverse effects on human health if those effects could be serious or irreversible”

Health Canada has demonstrated that it uses a precautionary approach in risk-based decision making. For example, Canada was the first country in the world to propose a prohibition on the import and sale of polycarbonate baby bottles containing Bisphenol A (BPA). Health Canada applied a precautionary approach in announcing its intention to regulate some products that contain BPA so that newborns and infants are not exposed to chemicals that could affect their early development, although the scientific evidence is not yet conclusive.

The Cabinet Directive on Streamlining Regulation also includes a precautionary approach. It applies to all departments and agencies involved in the federal regulatory process, and government officials are responsible for following this directive in all stages of the regulatory lifecycle. The Directive commits the federal government to:

  • protect and advance the public interest in health, safety and security, the quality of the environment, and the social and economic well-being of Canadians, as expressed by Parliament in legislation; and
  • make decisions based on evidence and the best available knowledge and science in Canada and worldwide, while recognizing that the application of precaution may be necessary when there is an absence of full scientific certainty and a risk of serious or irreversible harm.

This Directive also elucidates a precautionary approach as it states that “When there is a risk of serious or irreversible harm, the government recognizes that the absence of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing decisions to protect the health and safety of Canadians, the environment, or the conservation of natural resources.6