Health Canada has announced a draft amendment to the Pest Control Products Regulations to revise the current personal use import exemption to prohibit certain unregistered pesticides from entering Canada. Currently, the regulations allow unregistered pesticides to be imported into Canada for personal use when the pesticide is 500 grams (g) or 500 milliliters (mL) or less and when the value is $100 or less. According to Health Canada, the exemption was originally put in place to allow travelers to carry small quantities of a pesticide, such as an insect repellant deemed to pose little or no risk, across the border. However, Health Canada now cites concerns that the widespread use of the Internet to purchase goods online coupled with the increase in international travel could result in the influx of larger amounts of potentially toxic, unregistered pesticides entering the country. Health Canada notes that the Canada Border Services Agency lacks the authority under current regulations to intercept these products before they cross the border.
In seeking to limit the exemption, the Health Canada proposal would allow the importation of unregistered pesticides only if they meet the following criteria:
- imported directly by the importer for personal use (i.e., online purchases or deliveries would not be permitted),
- 500 g or 500 mL (or less) per person,
- it is equivalent to a Canadian registered domestic class product (the same active ingredient and concentration),
- packaging and labeling is in either English or French,
- it is in its original packaging with the original label intact, and
- it must be registered or authorized for use in the country of origin (contains a government registration number on its packaging or label).
In announcing its proposal, Health Canada indicated that if left in its current form the importation exemption could erode the integrity of Canada’s pest control products regulatory regime. For example, importers could circumvent the quantity limit established under the current exemption by placing many separate online orders via the Internet. According to Health Canada, individuals and businesses could import “virtually unlimited quantities of unregistered pesticides for possible commercial use or resale.” Consequently, products that have not gone through Canada’s rigorous review and approval process could end up occupying a larger share of the Canadian pesticide market thus resulting in lost sales for pesticide manufacturers and increased public health and safety risks.
Health Canada’s proposal was published in the February 11, 2017 edition of the Canada Gazette with a 30-day public comment period. The proposal may be accessed by clicking here.