Health and environment groups sound alarm about pesticide bill



    TORONTO, June 16 /CNW/ - Environmental and health-care leaders are
calling on the McGuinty government to act on flaws in the province's pesticide
legislation to better protect the health of Ontarians.
    Bill 64 will ban the use and sale of pesticides for cosmetic purposes.
However, as the bill winds its way through committee hearings and reading in
the legislature, a group of prominent health-care and environmental
organizations says the government must act on the bill's weaknesses. Unless
it's amended, Bill 64 will strip municipalities' of their rights to protect
their citizens through their own pesticide bylaws, and would nullify any
existing bylaws.
    "It is essential that the province not take away the municipal power to
pass bylaws dealing with lawn and garden pesticide use," says Kathleen Cooper,
Senior Researcher at the Canadian Environmental Law Association. "Thousands of
Ontario citizens have worked closely with their municipalities to reduce
unnecessary pesticide use."
    "Pesticide use represents a real threat to all of our health, and the
health of children in particular," says Jan Kasperski, Chief Executive Officer
of the Ontario College of Family Physicians. "Municipalities must retain the
power to protect their citizens' health by passing bylaws that are tougher
than the provincial legislation."
    Doris Grinspun, Executive Director of the Registered Nurses' Association
of Ontario, says the bill needs to be a floor that will set a base on which
other bylaws can build, not a ceiling that prevents further protections from
being enacted. She says nurses are also gravely worried about a loophole that
would allow future governments to introduce exemptions to the ban.
    "Nurses worked in good faith with the McGuinty government, believing that
the government would produce the strongest possible protection for the
public," she says. "But these shortfalls are unnecessary and undermine public
protection from the devastating effects of pesticides. We urge Premier
McGuinty to reconsider his government's position."
    Gideon Forman, Executive Director of the Canadian Association of
Physicians for the Environment, agrees that there are significant concerns
with Bill 64. "While doctors applaud the proposal to ban the sale of 300
pesticide products, we're disappointed the new Act stops municipalities from
passing stronger pesticide legislation. We're also concerned that any
exemptions could permit the very cosmetic pesticides this law is supposed to
prohibit."
    Members of the coalition calling for the government to address concerns
with Bill 64 include: Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment,
the Canadian Environmental Law Association, Ecojustice, the David Suzuki
Foundation, Ontario College of Family Physicians, Pesticide Free Ontario,
Prevent Cancer Now and the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario.





For further information:

For further information: Jill Scarrow, Registered Nurses' Association of
Ontario, Ph: (416) 408-5604, E-mail: jscarrow@rnao.org; Jan Kasperski, Chief
Executive Officer, Ontario College of Family Physicians, Ph: (416) 867-9646
ext. 27, Email: jk_ocfp@cfpc.ca; Kathleen Cooper, Senior Researcher, Canadian
Environmental Law Association, Ph: (705) 324-1608 or cell (705) 341-2488,
E-mail: kcooper@cela.ca; Gideon Forman, Executive Director, Canadian
Association of Physicians for the Environment, Ph: (416) 306-2273 or (647)
886-2189 (cell), E-mail: Gideon@cape.ca; Lisa Gue, Health and Environment
Policy Analyst, David Suzuki Foundation, Office: (613) 594-5428, Cell: (613)
796-7699, E-mail: lgue@davidsuzuki.org


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