In 2014, the Manitoba conservation minister Gord Mackintosh (New Democratic Party) announced the province would ban synthetic chemical lawn pesticides beginning January 2015. The legislation (Non-essential Use Regulation under The Environment Act) allows only federally approved bio-pesticides for sale and use on lawns, driveways, sidewalks and patios as well as school grounds, playing fields and playgrounds used predominantly by children and on health-care institution and child-care centre grounds. The legislation become effective in January 2015 with a one-year grace period for homeowners to allow them to become familiar with replacement products and practices, and to allow retailers and the lawn care sector to adapt. (Glyphosate use is not allowed for domestic or cosmetic purposes.)
There are also exemptions for certain practices and conditions in gardens, golf courses and to control noxious weeds and poisonous or invasive plants. The Government exempted gardens as “The Province recognizes that the probability of pesticide exposure from the use on gardens is lower than the use on lawns. There is greater potential for exposure to pesticides from lawns, as children typically play on lawns.
At the time of the new laws, the opposition party, the Progressive Conservative Party, as well as the crop science industry and farm groups strongly opposed the bans despite the fact that regulations do not apply to farms and forestry operations. In addition, herbicide resistant weeds are becoming more prevalent in Manitoba. Rob Gulden, at the University of Manitoba, in a presentation to agriculture students and staff, outlined that years of continuous herbicide use to control weeds is starting to produce resistant biotypes which no longer respond to chemical treatment.
In early 2016, a ‘Secret Shopper Survey’ by CBC News found that six out of nine stores sold the products in contravention of the legislation.
In April 2016 the Progressive Conservatives were elected. The new Sustainable Development Minister, Cathy Cox, announced a review of the legislation through an on-line survey which raised concern among environmental advocates, who hope most Manitobans actually want the ban strengthened, not overturned.
While the results of the review and any changes to government policy are not yet available (March 2017), a province-wide poll in “September 2016 by Probe Research of 1,000 Manitobans found that a clear majority – 53 per cent to 42 per cent – Manitobans want to maintain the current provincial ban on the cosmetic use of pesticides. (Five per cent of those polled did not respond or expressed no opinion.) Among Winnipeggers, support was even stronger: 55 per cent of city respondents say they favour the existing pesticide ban, compared to 38 per cent who are opposed, with 7 per cent not responding”.