Nurses say Ontario's pesticide ban doesn't go far enough to protect the public's health

    TORONTO, June 18 /CNW/ - Ontario's nurses are dismayed that the
province's ban on pesticides, passed in the Legislature today, doesn't go far
enough to protect public health.
    "When the premier announced a ban on the use and sale of cosmetic
pesticides on Earth Day, we stood side by side with him and applauded what we
thought was a step forward to protect people from these poisonous chemicals,"
says Wendy Fucile, President of the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario.
"But today, we see what the province's legislation actually means is that
municipalities will be stripped of their tough municipal bylaws to protect
people, and the provincial legislation will serve as a ceiling, not as a floor
upon which stronger local regulations can build."
    Fucile says while nurses recognize that Bill 64 is an improvement over
the current situation because it does ban the use and sale of pesticides, the
alarms health and environmental groups are sounding about the legislation must
not be ignored. She says over the last few weeks, these groups have been
continuously urging the government to amend the bill so that municipalities
are allowed to have tougher bylaws governing pesticide use.
    "Community action to protect public health mobilizes best at the
municipal level. It is a grave mistake to demobilize that capacity, as this
legislation will do," Fucile says, adding that RNAO is calling on the
government to correct this mistake by restoring this essential municipal power
as quickly as possible and treating municipalities as full partners in public
    RNAO Executive Director Doris Grinspun says nurses are also concerned
about an open-ended exemption clause that could, in the future, allow
extensive non-essential use of chemical pesticides. "This undermines the
intent of the legislation, which is to protect people's health, especially the
health of children who love to play. They can't read signs warning them that
the grass has been sprayed with harmful toxins," she says, adding that the
chorus of public opinion is also calling for a tough pesticide ban. "People
want to know their neighbours' lawns are safe. Nurses needed the government to
show strong leadership on this, but they have let us down."
    Grinspun says as Bill 64 becomes law, the association will hold the
government accountable to make sure the legislation works to protect and
enhance public health despite its flaws. That means RNAO will closely watch as
regulations are developed, and bring any risks to the public's attention.

    The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional
association representing registered nurses wherever they practise in Ontario.
Since 1925, RNAO has lobbied for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in
nursing practice, increased nurses' contribution to shaping the health-care
system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve.

For further information:

For further information: Jill Scarrow, Ph: (416) 408-5604, Cell: (647)

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