Pollinator Health Regulation (Ontario Regulation 63/09 under the Pesticides Act) - Frequently Asked Questions

Table of Contents

  1. General
  2. Licence to Sell a Class 12 Pesticide
  3. Integrated Pest Management Training
  4. Seed Amount Declaration
  5. Pest assessments
  6. Required Documents and Records
  7. Compliance
  8. Government Monitoring and Tracking

General

Q. What is a Class 12 pesticide?

A. Treated seeds are seeds that have been coated with a pesticide. The new regulatory requirements will create a new class of pesticides – Class 12 – for corn and soybean seeds treated with the following neonicotinoid insecticides:

  • imidacloprid
  • thiamethoxam
  • clothianidin

This new class of pesticides applies to corn seed grown for grain or silage and soybean seed.

Corn seed and soybean seed treated only with fungicide are not classified as Class 12 pesticides under the regulation.

Q. Who does the Pollinator Health Regulation (O. Reg. 63/09) apply to?

A. On July 1, 2015, new regulatory requirements for the sale and use of neonicotinoid-treated seeds in Ontario came into effect to ensure that neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seeds are used only when there is a demonstrated pest problem.

These requirements will be phased-in over a period of time to allow farmers and vendors to adapt.

In general, the regulation applies to persons who sell or use corn or soybean seed treated with imidacloprid, clothianidin or thiamethoxam.

If you will not be planting neonicotinoid-treated corn or soybean seed, you will not be subject to any new requirements under this regulation.

The regulation does not include requirements for the transport and storage of Class 12 pesticides.

Q. Why was a regulation developed?

A. Without pollinators, much of the food we eat and the fields of flowers and trees that we enjoy would not exist.

Pollination plays an important function in the environment by contributing to the diversity of plants and flowers. Many crops such as apples, cherries, peaches, plums, cucumbers, asparagus, squash, pumpkins and melons rely on pollinators. Certain field crops either rely on pollination or benefit from pollination in terms of yield. The ecological value of pollination includes food and shelter for wildlife and people, fuel and biomass, temperature moderation and the production of oxygen.

Ontario's honey bees pollinate roughly $897 million of the $6.7 billion in total sales for agricultural crops grown in Ontario – about 13 per cent of the total crop value. Ontario's honey bee colonies also contribute $26 million through honey production.

In addition, Ontario honey bees pollinate about $71 million of the blueberry and cranberry crops in eastern Canada which accounts for approximately 50 per cent of the total of these crops in that region.

Commercially raised bumble bees are the primary pollinator in greenhouses, contributing approximately $502 million a year to Ontario's economy.

Ontario grows approximately 2.5 million acres each of corn and soybean. The use of neonicotinoid-treated seed for corn has reached close to 100 per cent and 60 per cent for soybeans. Neonicotinoid-treated seeds are often used preventatively, without evidence of pest problems.

The government is taking a precautionary approach to reduce the use of neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seed, setting an aspirational goal of an 80 per cent reduction in the number of corn and soybean acres planted with neonicotinoid-treated seed by 2017. We will continue to review and evaluate new scientific evidence as it comes forward.

Q. How was the regulation developed?

A. The ministry conducted a comprehensive, two stage consultation process with respect to this regulation. The first stage commenced with a Regulation Proposal Notice entitled Pollinator Health: A Proposal for Enhancing Pollinator Health and Reducing the Use of Neonicotinoid Pesticides in Ontario.

This notice was posted to the Environmental Registry on November 25, 2014 for a 61- day comment period. Agricultural organizations, beekeepers, environmental and health groups, industry, and all members of the public were invited to attend in-person consultation meetings held across the province, as well as to submit comments online or by mail.

Over 50,000 comments were received on the discussion paper, and over 95 per cent of the comments were supportive.

In the next stage of the consultation process, the Ministry posted a Regulation Proposal Notice on March 23, 2015 for a 45-day period for public comment, including a draft regulation.

The Ministry invited key stakeholders and the members of the public with an interest in the regulatory proposal to submit comments. A series of technical briefings were held with key organizations.

Over 17,500 comments were received on the proposed regulatory amendments. Similar to the discussion paper posting, the majority of the submissions are supportive of the regulatory proposal.

Q. Farmers had many concerns about the draft regulation. How did you take their concerns into consideration?

A. Many changes were made to the original proposed regulation as a result of what was heard through stakeholder consultations and through comments. These include:

  • allowing additional time for farmers to take IPM training
  • encouraging participation in IPM training, by offering training free of charge for the first year of implementation, until September 2016
  • committing to publicly reporting amalgamated sales and seed treatment data for neonicotinoid treated corn and soybean seed to the track effectiveness of the regulation
  • establishing more flexible licensing requirements for direct-to-farm vendors
  • allowing vendors to continuously provide updates to the list of neonicotinoid treated corn and soybean seed to provide additional flexibility, as new seeds come to market
  • extending the validity period of pest assessment report by two months
  • allowing professional pest advisors to supervise other people in conducting pest assessments
  • phasing in requirements for professional pest advisors on a geographic basis.

Licence to Sell a Class 12 Pesticide

Q. Who is considered a vendor?

A. In Ontario, under the Pesticides Act, a vendor is a person who sells, offers to sell or transfers a pesticide. Unless they are exempt, vendors must hold a licence to sell pesticides in the province. In this case, a person that sells, offers to sell or transfers grain corn or soybean seed treated with imidacloprid, thiamethoxam or clothianidin is a vendor of a Class 12 pesticide.

Q. How does a vendor apply for a 'Treated Seed Vendor's Licence'?

A. In order to sell, offer to sell or transfer Class 12 pesticides, a vendor must obtain a new Treated Seed Vendor's Licence. To apply for a licence, the vendor must complete an Application for a Vendor Licence for Pesticides Sales and submit it to the MOECC. The names of the vendor's treated seed sales representatives must be included with the application. The vendor should also consider whether to submit names of any direct-to-farm vendors in the application.

Questions on vendor licensing can be directed to a Client Service Representative, Environmental Approvals Access and Service Integration Branch (EAASIB), Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC), 135 St Clair Ave W, 1st Fl, Toronto, ON, M4V 1P5; telephone 1 800 461-6290 (toll free) or in Toronto 416 314-8001, fax 416 314-8452 or email EAASIBGen@ontario.ca.

Q. Who is a direct-to-farm vendor? Do direct-to-farm vendors require a licence?

A. A vendor is a direct-to-farm vendor if:

  • the vendor only sells Class 12 pesticides (not any other pesticides);
  • the vendor only sells directly to end users (i.e. someone who intends to plant the treated seed) who qualify to buy the seed and are not also vendors;
  • the licensed treated seed vendor that they purchase the Class 12 pesticides from has provided their name to the MOECC and a statement that the direct-to-farm vendor has confirmed that he/she meets the criteria above.

Direct-to-Farm vendors are exempt from requiring a licence for the sale of a Class 12 pesticide if they:

  • purchase the Class 12 pesticide from a licensed treated seed vendor;
  • collect required information and documents from the purchaser (e.g., seed declaration form, pest assessment report, IPM certification number (after August 30, 2016); and
  • provide a copy of the purchaser's information/documents to the licensed treated seed vendor.

For further details, please contact the Environmental Approvals Access and Service Integration Branch (EAASIB), Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC), 135 St Clair Ave W, 1st Fl, Toronto, ON, M4V 1P5; telephone 1 800 461-6290 (toll free) or in Toronto 416 314-8001, fax 416 314-8452 or email EAASIBGen@ontario.ca.

Integrated Pest Management Training

Q. What is the cost of IPM training?

A. Beginning in November 2015, growers can take training in a classroom at various locations or online through the University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus. Training is free if the course is successfully completed before September 2016. For more information, please visit: www.IPMcertified.ca. After September 2016, IPM training will be paid for by the participant and available at various locations or online through the University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus.

Q. Do I need to take IPM training if I hire a person to do the planting on my farm?

A. The person, or persons, who actually do the planting, such as a farmer, farm manager, supervisor or other, must be IPM-trained. An IPM-trained person can supervise up to seven people who are planting Class 12 pesticides on the farm if certain regulatory requirements are met. For more details please refer to section 45.1 of O. Reg. 63/09.

IPM Certification is valid for 5 years.

A person does not require IPM training before August 31, 2016. A person will need to be IPM-trained to purchase and use Class 12 pesticides after August 31, 2016.

Q. I am a certified crop advisor (CCA). Do I need to take the new IPM training?

A. Under the new rules, certified crop advisors are not required to take IPM training in order to serve as professional pest advisors.

Q. I'm a certified crop advisor (CCA) and I also grow corn and soybeans. Am I going to be required to take the new IPM training before August 31, 2016 in order to buy and plant Class 12 pesticides?

A. Starting on August 31, 2016, it will be a regulatory requirement to show proof of successful completion of the IPM training course when Class 12 pesticides are ordered.

The IPM training course will include the importance of pollinators in the ecosystem, protecting pollinators from pesticide exposure, and best management practices related to the use of Class 12 pesticides.

Seed Amount Declaration

Q. When does a sale of a Class 12 pesticide take place?

A. The "sale, offer for sale and transfer" of a pesticide are regulated under the legislation. Some transactions take place over a period of time and, for the purposes of subsection 98 (2.1), the important point in time is when an order is placed. Therefore, persons are encouraged to plan ahead when ordering seed so that they can provide the required documentation when an order is made. A licensed treated seed vendor must comply with the Regulation and keep copies of the required documentation (e.g. seed amount declaration, inspection of soil – pest assessment report) for at least four years.

Q. If a grower completes a Seed Amount Declaration in the fall of 2015 at the time of ordering seed, can the grower conduct an inspection of the soil in the spring of 2016 (prior to planting)?  If the grower completes a pest assessment report on the basis of that soil inspection, can the grower amend the seed order and plant more than 50 per cent of his corn and/or soybean acreage (as the case may be) with NNI-treated seed?

A. If a person signs a Seed Amount Declaration in the Fall but can demonstrate through an inspection of soil that grubs or wireworms are present at or above thresholds set out in the pest assessment guideline then a person would be able to purchase Class 12 pesticides in an amount greater than 50 per cent of the total area of where he/she intends to plant either corn or soybeans. 

An Inspection of Soil – Pest Assessment Report must be completed and signed which would replace the Seed Amount Declaration previously provided to the vendor to allow the purchase of Class 12 pesticides for planting on greater than 50 per cent of the intended acreage of either corn or soybean for the 2016 growing season.

Pest assessments

Q. Can you please clarify the terms application area, farm property and assessment roll number?

A. Application area is defined in the regulation as the area of land within a farm property on which Class 12 pesticides are intended to be planted. This area is determined after you have completed scouting.

The regulation defines farm property as an area of land used for an agricultural operation, part of an agricultural operation or more than one agricultural operation

The assessment roll number is the 19 digit number assigned to each property for municipal tax purposes.

Q. How much area is each assessment eligible for in terms of treated seed?'

A. In an inspection of soil, the application area is 100 acres or less, has one assessment roll number that applies to all of the land in the area, and the pest thresholds for grubs or wireworms (as set out in the pest assessment guideline) for the five scouting locations in that area have been met or exceeded.

The application area can be smaller than 100 acres and must be sketched or mapped as part of the Inspection of Soil – Pest Assessment Report.

In an inspection of a crop, the application area can be larger than the area where the percentage of stand loss was calculated (i.e. the application area can be larger than 100 acres), if one assessment roll number applies to all the land in the area and the application area includes an area where the stand loss thresholds have been met.

Q. When should I conduct a soil pest assessment?

A. Factors that impact the ability to detect grubs and wireworms include soil temperature and moisture levels. It is best to perform a soil pest assessment when the soil temperatures are between 10°C to 25°C (approximately) in the spring and the fall.

Pest assessments need to be conducted according to the Pest Assessment Guideline.

Q. If treated seed was purchased before August 31, 2015, in an amount greater than 50 per cent of the total acreage where corn and soybean seed will be planted, can this amount be used during the next planting season (Spring 2016)?

A. In order to use Class 12 pesticides in Spring 2016, the Class 12 pesticides must be planted in an application area that is identified in a soil pest assessment report or a Seed Amount Declaration. For more details please refer to s.45.1 of O. Reg. 63/09.

Q. Is there an expiry date for completed pest assessment reports?

A. The pest assessment report may be used to order Class 12 pesticides during the 12-month period from the date the inspection was conducted.

Q. The regulation states that once phased-in, a professional pest advisor is required to perform a soil pest assessment and sign a completed report every 3 years. Does this mean that a professional pest advisor's report must be done every 3 years?

A. Starting on August 31, 2017, a requirement that a professional pest advisor conduct a soil pest assessment and prepare a report will begin to be phased in based on geographic area.

Once the professional pest advisor requirement is phased in, in your area, a professional pest advisor will need to conduct (or supervise) the soil pest assessment and prepare and sign the report if the inspection has not been performed by a professional pest advisor at least one time in the previous 3-year period. Pest assessment reports may be used to purchase Class 12 pesticides during the 12-month period from the date the inspection was conducted.

A person who has completed integrated pest management training and received a certificate number would be able to perform the soil pest assessment in the two years subsequent to the initial professional pest advisor's report. 

Refer to section 8.2 and Schedules 1, 2 and 3 of O. Reg. 63/09 for information on when a professional pest advisor is required for your area.

Q. When does a professional pest advisor need to be present when supervising persons conducting a soil pest assessment using the bait method?

A. A professional pest advisor must be present at all steps of the inspection of soil using the bait scouting method, including: (i) when digging and preparing the bait locations and (ii) when digging up baits to determine whether the threshold for either grubs or wireworms has been met.

Q. Can a Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) or professional Agrologist who runs his or her own independent consulting business and also works for a business that sells a Class 12 pesticide, conduct pest assessments for grower clients?

A. On or after August 31, 2017, the following rules apply to all professional pest advisors and their eligibility to do pest assessments for the purposes of O. Reg. 63/09:

Allowed

A professional pest advisor is allowed to receive financial incentives (salary or commission) from a manufacturer or seller of:

  • Class 12 pesticides used to treat corn or soy seeds
  • Corn or soy seeds treated with Class 12 pesticides
  • Corn and soy seeds that will be treated with class 12 pesticides.

Not allowed

  • A professional pest advisor is not allowed to receive additional financial incentives (above and beyond their salary or commission) for recommending Class 12-treated corn and soybean seeds over non-treated seeds.

Q. I'm a certified crop advisor (CCA) and also a corn and soybean grower. Am I able to complete and sign the pest assessment reports for my own fields?

A. There is no requirement in the regulation that would prevent a professional pest advisor, provided he/she is IPM trained and an independent crop advisor, from completing and signing pest assessment reports for farm properties where they carry on farming activities.

Q. Can professional pest advisors supervise others who perform a pest assessment?

A. Yes. A professional pest advisor can supervise others when conducting an inspection of soil pest assessment if the following conditions are met:

  • a professional pest advisor is present at the farm property during the assessment and can quickly attend a pest scouting location
  • a professional pest advisor cannot supervise more than seven people at one time
  • the supervised person who does the pest assessment has been trained with respect to the requirements of conducting an inspection of soil in accordance with the pest assessment guideline and the identification of pests
  • the assessment must be performed according to the pest assessment guideline; and
  • a professional pest advisor must prepare and sign the pest assessment report.

A person supervised by a professional pest advisor cannot be the owner or operator of the agricultural operation.

For further information refer to section 8.2 of O. Reg. 63/09.

Q. Will crop insurance premiums go up due to potentially higher rates of crop failure and higher insurance claims?

A. If conditions for the use of Class 12 pesticides were not met, as demonstrated by a pest assessment, growers would not be expected to have used Class 12 pesticides for Production Insurance purposes.

Growers are expected to demonstrate that they have made reasonable use of whatever pest management approaches that are available to them. This is assessed on a case-by-case basis based on information provided to the adjuster dealing with the claim.

If they have done so, and they experience a drop in production below their guarantee due to an insured peril, they will be eligible for a claim.

Q. I'm a certified crop advisor or professional Agrologist. Occasionally seed suppliers will offer incentives to promote the sale of certain seeds or other products. How can I know if I comply with the financial independence clause (i.e., subsection 8.2 (8) of O. Reg. 63/09) when dealing with these incentives?

A. If you receive additional financial incentives (above and beyond your salary or commission) for recommending the sale of Class 12-treated corn and soybean seeds over the sale of non-Class 12 seeds, you are not considered to have met the financial independence clause and so not eligible to work as a professional pest advisor for the purposes of O. Reg. 63/09.

Q. I'm a grower with a longstanding professional relationship with a Certified Crop Advisor (or professional Agrologist) who I would like to continue to use. Am I responsible for checking whether this person is financially independent?

A. You should ask your Professional Pest Advisor (PPA) if he/she will remain eligible to work as a PPA when the independence clause set out in subsection 8.2 (8) of O. Reg. 63/09 comes into effect.

Q. Why is the ministry issuing this clarification now?

A. We believe communicating our interpretation of "financial independence" will address some concerns of the agricultural community around ensuring CCA capacity for growers, while making sure Class 12 pesticides are only used where there is a demonstrated need. We are clarifying this matter early, to allow time for all groups to be informed.

Q. Does the financial independence clause mean my existing pest assessment report is no longer valid?

A. A pest assessment report is valid for 12 months from the date it was signed by a person qualified to prepare it. Its status will not be affected if the qualified person becomes unqualified in the future.

Q. What if a professional pest advisor is not financially independent and performs a pest assessment?

A. The organizations certifying professional pest advisors, the Ontario Institute of Agrologists and the Ontario Certified Crop Advisors Association, have strong codes of ethics that members must follow. Each association has established processes to address potential conflicts of interest and can discipline members as appropriate. In addition, the Ministry has inspection and enforcement capabilities under the Pesticides Act.

Required Documents and Records

Q. What are the record-keeping requirements under the regulation?

A. The regulation sets out the requirements to keep records. In general, the following persons are required to keep records for the time period specified:

Person General Record-keeping Requirement
Licensed Vendor of the Treated Seed Class At least 4 years
Treated Seed Sales Representatives At least 2 years
Direct-to-farm Vendors At least 2 years
Custom Seed Treaters At least 4 years
Person who purchases a Class 12 pesticide At least 2 years
A person who uses a Class 12 pesticide At least 2 years
Every person who uses, sells or transfers a Class 12 pesticide for the purpose described in subsection (section 13.1) At least 2 years

Q. What record keeping system is required to comply with the regulation?

A. O. Reg. 63/09 specifies various record-keeping requirements (e.g. for custom seed treaters, vendors, treated seed sales representatives, seed production contracts, persons who use Class 12 pesticides etc.) For example, a person who is required to hold a vendor's licence is generally required to keep records for a period of at least four years.

The regulation does not specify how records are to be kept. It is up to the person to whom the record-keeping requirement applies to determine how best to meet the regulatory requirement.

Q. Can I, as a vendor, share a record keeping system with sales representatives or retail outlets who sell Class 12 pesticides to growers?

A. It is up to the person to whom the record-keeping requirement applies to determine how best to meet the regulatory requirement.

Q. Can administrative staff involved with the paper work and invoicing of Class 12 pesticides at an office level be considered to be treated seed sales representatives? 

A. A treated seed sales representative is defined in the regulation to be an individual who represents a treated seed vendor by having direct contact with purchasers of Class 12 pesticides, and facilitating the sale or transfer of Class 12 pesticides. If an administrative staff person in your company has direct contact with a purchaser and is responsible for placing orders of Class 12 pesticides, he/she is a treated seed sales representative and must meet the requirements set out in O. Reg. 63/09.

Q. Are all licensed treated seed vendors required to report sales of Class 12 pesticides to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC)?

A. Yes. Each year, a person who holds a vendor's licence of the Treated Seed Class must submit a report to MOECC that includes information about the sale of a Class 12 pesticide and corn and soybean seed that are not a Class 12 pesticide for the 12-month period that ended on August 30 of that year. Reports must be prepared separately for corn and soybean seed. For more information refer to section 102.2 of O. Reg. 63/09.

Note: This requirement does not include sales or transfers of Class 12 pesticides from a licensed treated seed vendor to another licensed treated seed vendor.

Q. Can a main retail location submit sales data for others that sell their brand?  

A. Generally, each vendor of Class 12 pesticides must hold a treated seed vendor licence and will need to submit their sales data to the MOECC. Sales made to another licenced treated seed vendor are not included in the report to the ministry. A vendor of Class 12 pesticides who meets the criteria of a direct-to-farm vendor is not required to hold a treated seed vendor licence and is not required to submit sales information to the ministry as they provide sales data to their seed company.

Q. Are vendors required to verify the accuracy of information on the pest assessment reports?

A. Vendors are responsible for selling only the amount of Class 12 pesticide required for use on the acres indicated in a Seed Amount Declaration or pest assessment report. The vendor can make the assumption that the information is correct.

The information required in a Seed Amount Declaration or pest assessment report is set out in the regulation. All of this information needs to be included in order for the Seed Amount Declaration or the pest assessment report to be valid.

It is an offence to provide false information in any of the required forms.

Compliance

Q. How will the government enforce these regulatory requirements?

A. MOECC manages its approach to compliance and enforcement through education and outreach, inspections, response to incidents, voluntary abatement, orders, tickets and prosecutions. The ministry will focus its initial efforts on ensuring that the regulated community is aware of and understands these new requirements while utilizing the appropriate compliance and enforcement tools when necessary.

If you believe someone is not following the rules, please contact a Ministry of Environment and Climate Change district office during regular business hours. After business hours, please contact: 1-866-MOE-TIPS (1-866-663-8477).

Q. Will the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change be conducting inspections in order to assess for compliance?

A. MOECC staff are located in communities throughout Ontario and are trained in monitoring for compliance and providing enforcement under the Pesticides Act. To further support the implementation of these new requirements, the ministry will be responding to reports of suspected non-compliance and conducting inspections of vendors who sell treated seed.

In cases of non-compliance, the ministry follows-up to ensure that individuals and companies take appropriate actions to achieve compliance.

Q. What are the fines for non-compliance for vendors and growers?

A. MOECC will focus its initial efforts on ensuring that the regulated community is aware of and understands these new requirements while utilizing the appropriate compliance and enforcement tools when necessary.

The ministry has developed a compliance policy that staff will follow. This policy has a series of steps and a scaled response, depending on the particular situation.

Violations of the Pesticides Act and O. Reg. 63/09 are subject to the penalties outlined under the Pesticides Act for both individuals and corporations.  The actual fines for convictions are ultimately determined by the courts and are dependent on the nature and seriousness of the offence.

Q. How will the government ensure compliance with these regulatory requirements with respect to cross-border purchases of neonicotinoid insecticide-treated corn and soybean seed?

A. Enforcement of out-of-province actions is not a new issue being introduced with these amendments. Provisions of the Pesticides Act allow for the inspection of a vendor or farm to ensure Class 12 pesticides are sold, purchased and used, in accordance with the regulatory requirements.

It is important to note that regardless of where the treated seed was purchased, the use of the treated seed would be contrary to the legislation without the appropriately completed pest assessment report or seed amount declaration form.

Government Monitoring and Tracking

Q. Is all of the Class 12 usage information that is to be sent to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) aggregated? 

A. Licensed treated seed vendors will need to submit to the MOECC a report by October 31 of each year, starting October 31, 2016, with specific information about the sales or transfer of Class 12 pesticides.

Vendor reporting covers sales or transfers of Class 12 pesticides that occurred within the previous year (e.g. August 31, 2015 to August 30, 2016) for reports submitted by October 31, 2016. The MOECC will publish an annual summary of the vendor information and post it on the Ontario government website each year, beginning January 31, 2017.

Licensed treated seed vendors will need to submit copies of pest assessment reports provided to them in demonstrating the need for Class 12 pesticides to the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs by October 31 of each year, starting October 31, 2016.

These data will help the province assess progress in reaching its target to reduce the use of neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seeds.

Information collected is covered under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

For details of the regulation please visit www.ontario.ca/neonics.


For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: foodsafety@ontario.ca
Author: OMAFRA Staff
Creation Date: 23 October 2015
Last Reviewed: 23 October 2015