Overview

The management of pesticides in Canada is a joint responsibility of the federal and provincial/territorial governments.

Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) is responsible for registering pesticides to allow for their sale and use in Canada, based on a review of scientific studies, to ensure that their use poses minimal risk to human health and the environment if used in accordance with approved product labels, and that they are effective in controlling pests.

Ontario is responsible for regulating the sale, use, storage, transportation and disposal of pesticides, including issuing licences and permits to protect human health and environment.

Amendments to the Pesticides Act ("the Act") and Ontario Regulation 63/09 ("the Regulation"), made in 2020, harmonize Ontario’s classification approach with the federal product class designations (i.e. Manufacturing, Restricted, Commercial and Domestic) and align it with other provinces. In 2020, the Ontario-specific application process to classify pesticides before they are allowed for sale and use was eliminated, allowing pesticides to be immediately available for sale and use in Ontario once they are federally registered (see section 2 of the Regulation).

Pesticide classes previously used to manage Ontario’s cosmetic pesticides ban (i.e., Classes 7-11) have been eliminated. However, the cosmetic pesticides ban and its related requirements have generally been maintained as requirements in the Regulation.

A single list of permitted pesticides, entitled "List of Active Ingredients Authorized for Cosmetic Uses (Allowable List)" replaces the former list of Class 11 pesticides related to the cosmetic pesticides ban, and contains pesticides that may be used under the ban.

Class 12 was previously used to manage requirements related to the sale and use of neonicotinoid (NNI) treated seeds (i.e. corn and soybean seeds treated with clothianidin, imidacloprid or thiamethoxam) and has been changed to Class E in the Regulation, a stand-alone class specific to NNI-treated seeds.

The purpose of this guide is to provide details of Ontario’s pesticide regulatory framework and to provide guidance on complying with requirements to pesticide manufacturers, vendors, farmers/growers, licensed exterminators, homeowners and other users.

While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this document, it should not be construed as legal advice. In the event of conflict with requirements identified in the Act or Regulation, the legal requirements will apply.

Federal registration and provincial classification

With few exceptions, pesticides must first be registered by the federal government before they are allowed for sale and use in Canada. Health Canada's PMRA registers pesticides at the federal level under the federal Pest Control Products Act. Federally registered pesticide products are assigned one of four federal product class designations (i.e., Manufacturing, Restricted, Commercial and Domestic). Federally registered pesticides are immediately allowed for sale and use in Ontario. No applications are required to classify a pesticide in Ontario (see section 2 of the Regulation).

The Cosmetic Pesticides Ban Act, 2008 was passed in the Ontario legislature on June 18, 2008. The requirements of the ban are detailed in the Pesticides Act, amended by the Cosmetic Pesticides Ban Act, 2008 and the Regulation.

The Regulation specifies provincial requirements that relate to the sale, use, storage, transportation and disposal of pesticides in Ontario.

Federal registration

The federal process of pesticide registration (including product class designation) is based on a scientific approach of evaluating the health and environmental risks of a pest control product and determining that a pesticide, if approved, would not pose any unacceptable risks to human health or the environment when used according to the label requirements.

The regulation under the federal Pest Control Products Act defines four classes of pest control products:

  • Manufacturing: if the pest control product is to be used only in the manufacture of a pest control product or a product regulated under the Feeds Act or the Fertilizers Act
  • Restricted: if the pest control product is one for which the federal Minister of Health, out of concern for its health or environmental risks, has set out additional information to be shown on the label concerning essential conditions respecting the display, distribution or limitations on use of, or qualifications of persons who may use, the product
  • Commercial: if the pest control product is to be distributed for use in commercial activities that are specified on the label
  • Domestic: if the pest control product is to be distributed primarily to the general public for personal use in and around their homes.

When a pesticide product is registered, PMRA approves a label which specifies the federal class designation. A pesticide label is a legal document, and by law pesticides can only be used in accordance with the label. PMRA has tools to search for pesticide labels online or using an app.

For more information on how pesticides are registered federally, please visit PMRA's Frequently Asked Questions page.

Ontario’s pesticide classes

Ontario’s regulatory framework ensures requirements are in place for the sale, use, transportation, storage and disposal of pesticides in Ontario. Ontario’s classification system allows the Regulation to specify rules for classes of pesticides. Ontario's classification system is aligned with PMRA's product class designations, as set out in the table below. Ontario has an additional class of pesticides designated as Class E, to regulate the sale and use of corn and soybean seeds treated with clothianidin, imidacloprid or thiamethoxam (i.e. neonicotinoid treated seeds).

Federal Pesticide ClassPost-2020 Ontario Pesticide ClassPre-2020 Ontario Pesticide Class
ManufacturingClass AClass 1
RestrictedClass BClass 2, 3, 4, 7
CommercialClass CClass 2, 3, 4
DomesticClass DClass 5, 6, 7, 8
N/AClass E - Treated seedsClass 12

As previously mentioned, registered pesticides have a federally approved label which specifies the federal class designation. Manufacturing pesticides are sometimes identified as Technical on the label, but these pesticides are Class A pesticides in Ontario. Similarly, commercial pesticides are sometimes identified as Agricultural, Institutional or Industrial on the label, but these pesticides are Class C pesticides in Ontario. A Class C pesticide may also have restricted uses on the label.

Applications are not required for a pesticide to be classified in Ontario. Pesticide classification occurs automatically with the federal registration of a pesticide product. Section 2 of the Regulation operates to classify a pesticide according to the federal class designation.

2. (1) A pesticide is a Class A pesticide if it is registered under the Pest Control Products Act (Canada) and designated under that Act as a pest control product of the Manufacturing class.

(2) A pesticide is a Class B pesticide if it is registered under the Pest Control Products Act (Canada) and designated under that Act as a pest control product of the Restricted class.

(3) A pesticide is a Class C pesticide if it is registered under the Pest Control Products Act (Canada) and designated under that Act as a pest control product of the Commercial class.

(4) A pesticide is a Class D pesticide if it is registered under the Pest Control Products Act (Canada) and designated under that Act as a pest control product of the Domestic class or if it is registered under the Fertilizers Act (Canada).

(5) A pesticide is a Class E pesticide if it is a corn seed or soybean seed that is treated with a pesticide that contains imidacloprid, clothianidin or thiamethoxam.

Ontario does not maintain a database of classified pesticides. The information required to determine the pesticide class in Ontario (i.e. federal designation as Manufacturing, Restricted, Commercial or Domestic) is on the pesticide label which is available online through PMRA's databases. These databases also contain information on pesticide products including federal designation, active ingredient and registration status.

Cosmetic pesticide ban

Ontario's cosmetic pesticides ban is in place to protect Ontario families and children from the unnecessary risks of cosmetic pesticides by only allowing the use of certain low risk pesticides for controlling weeds and pests on lawns and gardens. Cosmetic is defined in the Act as "non-essential".

The cosmetic pesticide ban prohibits the use of all pesticides in, on or over land in Ontario unless an exception applies (see "Exceptions" below) or unless the only active ingredients in the pesticide are active ingredients listed on the Allowable List as per section 18 of the Regulation. Active ingredients on the Allowable List are considered low risk and are only added to the list if they meet certain criteria set out in the Regulation.

Pesticides Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. P.11, s. 7.1 (1)

7.1 (1) Subject to subsection (2), no person shall use or cause or permit the use in, on or over land of an active ingredient unless the active ingredient meets the following criteria:

  1. The Director has determined, in accordance with the regulations, that the active ingredient is appropriate for use for a cosmetic purpose.
  2. The Director has listed the active ingredient in a prescribed document, which may be amended from time to time, published by the ministry and available on a website of the Government.

Exceptions

Exceptions to the cosmetic pesticide ban allow certain uses of pesticides in, on, or over land. Excepted uses (i.e. allowed) are set out in subsection 7.1(2) of the Act.

Pesticides Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. P.11, s. 7.1 (2)

7.1 (2) Subsection (1) does not apply to the following uses of an active ingredient:

  1. Uses related to golf courses, if any prescribed conditions have been met
  2. Uses related to agriculture
  3. Uses related to forestry
  4. Uses related to the promotion of public health or safety
  5. Other prescribed uses, if any prescribed conditions have been met

Section 7.1(2) of the Act outlines the excepted uses of pesticides including uses for:

  • agriculture
  • forestry
  • the promotion of public health and safety which, as described in the regulation includes
    • treatment of plants poisonous to the touch
    • animals and insects that bite, sting, are venomous or carry disease
    • pests of public works and other buildings and structures
  • golf courses (if prescribed conditions are met)
  • and other prescribed uses

Sections 16 to 31 of the Regulation provide relevant definitions and prescribe other allowed uses (exceptions) along with any conditions that must be met for pesticides to be used. The prescribed uses that are exceptions to the cosmetic pesticide ban include use for:

  • specialty turf (lawn bowling, cricket, lawn tennis or croquet fields that use the same turf as golf greens)
  • arboriculture (trees)
  • maintaining a sports field specific to a national or international event
  • cemeteries
  • exterminations integral to a structural extermination
  • meeting other legislative requirements (e.g. Weed Control Act)
  • scientific purposes
  • to manage, protect, establish or restore natural resources

Registered pesticides containing active ingredients that are not on the Allowable List can be used for the above exceptions, provided that the pesticide is used in accordance with the label, and applicable conditions are met (e.g. appropriate licence/permit). Additional conditions that must be met (e.g. Integrated Pest Management Certification, annual reporting) in order to use the pesticide are set out in sections 16 to 31 of the Regulation.

As previously mentioned, the cosmetic pesticide ban only applies to pesticide use that is in, on or over land. Accordingly, the cosmetic pesticide ban does not apply to pesticide use in water or inside buildings.

Identifying cosmetic and excepted uses

The cosmetic pesticide ban prohibits the use of pesticides with active ingredients that are not on the Allowable List, unless an exception applies. The pesticide label specifies the uses of the pesticide that are permitted and is a legal document. The pesticide label does not include any information that is specific to Ontario’s pesticide ban. For many pesticide products some uses set out on the federal pesticide label are allowed in Ontario, while others are not.

In order to use a pesticide in, on or over land with active ingredients that are not on the Allowable List, the pesticide must have an excepted use set out on the label. Such a pesticide can only be used for those excepted purposes.

If the federal label for a pesticide specifies it can be used, for example, to control weeds on lawns, this use is cosmetic. There is no exception to the cosmetic pesticide ban for the control of weeds on lawns, so this use is considered to be non-essential and is prohibited, unless all of the active ingredients are on the Allowable List.

In describing the use of a pesticide, the federal government may specify a pest and target site, such as the control of weeds on roadsides. This use, under certain circumstances could be an exception to the ban. For instance, it may be allowed under the public health and safety exception to remove vegetation that is impacting sightlines or drainage on roadsides, but it cannot be used to remove vegetation on roadsides so that a garden could be planted in a municipal beautification project.

Ontario's Allowable List

The Act provides for the creation of a list of active ingredients found in pesticide products that may be used for cosmetic purposes (Allowable List). The use of pesticide products containing only active ingredients on the Allowable List for cosmetic purposes is allowed under the ban – i.e. anyone can use these pesticides to control weeds and other pests on lawns, gardens, driveways and other areas such as in parks or around the home.

Active ingredients contained in pesticide products are identified on the federally-approved product label. The active ingredients on the Allowable List, at the time that the 2020 amendments were made, were the same as those previously in Class 11.

The active ingredients in a pesticide that has cosmetic uses on its label are compared against the Allowable List to determine if the pesticide can be used for cosmetic purposes in, on or over land. If all active ingredients listed on the pesticide label are on the Allowable List, the pesticide can be used for cosmetic purposes in Ontario.

The Allowable List will be made available on Ontario.ca and updated from time to time.

Allowable list criteria

Background

Since 2009, the ministry has been maintaining a list of active ingredients that can be used for cosmetic purposes under Ontario’s cosmetic pesticides ban. This list was referred to as Class 11 and is now referred to in section 18 of the Regulation as the "List of Active Ingredients Authorized for Cosmetic Uses (Allowable List)".

The criteria for adding pesticide active ingredients to Class 11 were set out in the previous ministry guidance document, titled Pesticide Classification Guideline for Ontario, version 1, February 24, 2009, which has been revoked. It included the following description:

"The characteristics used to determine if a pesticide is a Class 11 pesticide is that it is considered to be a biopesticide by the PMRA or meets the criteria based on the PMRA proposal for low-risk pesticides. Such lower-risk pesticides have some or all of the following characteristics:

  • They have a non-toxic mode of action
  • They are of low toxicity to organisms the product is not targeting
  • They do not persist in the environment
  • The product is used in ways that do not cause significant exposure. For example, the product is pre-mixed or it is applied in a closed system, reducing human and environmental exposure
  • They have been widely available to the public for other uses for some time

Examples of pesticides that were considered to be biopesticides or low-risk pesticides include microbials; biochemical pesticides; substances that are naturally present or derived by simple processing; certain types of plant extracts and essential oils; and certain commodity chemicals."

The ministry's determination of whether an active ingredient was allowed for cosmetic use considered PMRA's assessment of the pesticide during the registration process.

PMRA's assessment of an active ingredient was considered alongside PMRA directives that describe federal processes for the assessment of biopesticides or lower risk pesticides, including the following directives:

  1. Regulatory Directive DIR2001-02 - Guidelines for the Registration of Microbial Pest Control Agents and Products
  2. Regulatory Directive DIR2002-02 - The PMRA Initiative for Reduced-Risk Pesticides
  3. Regulatory Directive DIR2012-01: Guidelines for the Registration of Non-Conventional Pest Control Products
  4. Essential oil-based personal insect repellents (EOPIR): information requirements for assessment of risks to human health: Addendum (DIR2017-02) to the Guidelines for the Registration of Non-Conventional Pest Control Products (DIR2012-01)

The ministry has been using the applicable directives above, as they have been developed and published by PMRA, in determining whether to add a pesticide active ingredient to Class 11.

PMRA's most recent regulatory directive titled Guidelines for the Registration of Non-Conventional Pest Control Products (DIR2012-01) sets out criteria that is consistent with how the ministry has been adding active ingredients to Class 11.

Moving forward

Given the above, at the time that the 2020 amendments were made, the criteria used to add an active ingredient to Class 11 is consistent with the criteria set out in section 17 of the Regulation, the Director has listed all pesticides that were previously classified as Class 11 pesticides on the Allowable List.

As new pesticides are reviewed and registered by PMRA at the federal level, the registration of a non-conventional pesticide under DIR2012-01 will be considered in the Director’s decision when following the rules set out in section 17 of the Regulation to determine whether an active ingredient is appropriate for use for a cosmetic purpose.

Only active ingredients that are biopesticides (microbials, pheromones or semiochemicals), as defined by PMRAfootnote 1footnote 2 will be considered to be biopesticides. Furthermore, only active ingredients contained in pesticides registered as non-conventional pesticides under DIR2012-01 are eligible for consideration as to whether an active ingredient is an active ingredient that poses a low risk to human health and the environment (section 17(1) paragraph 2). The ministry will not be developing its own criteria and will rely on the PMRA criteria under DIR 2012-01 to determine if an active ingredient is an active ingredient that poses a low risk to human health and the environment. Pesticides registered as conventional pesticides by PMRA will not be considered for inclusion on the Allowable List.

17.(1) For the purposes of paragraph 1 of subsection 7.1 (1) of the Act, the Director shall apply the following rules for the purpose of determining whether an active ingredient is appropriate for use for a cosmetic purpose:

  1. An active ingredient is appropriate for use for a cosmetic purpose only if it is contained in a Class C or D pesticide with a label that indicates at least one use that is not mentioned in subsection 7.1 (2) of the Act.
  2. An active ingredient is appropriate for use for a cosmetic purpose only if the Director is satisfied that,
    1. The active ingredient is a biopesticide, or
    2. Based on consideration of the following factors, the active ingredient poses a low risk to human health and the environment:
      1. The active ingredient has a low inherent toxicity to non-target organisms.
      2. The products in which the active ingredient is contained have a low potential for their use to result in significant human or environmental exposure.
      3. The active ingredient is not persistent in the environment.
      4. The active ingredient is widely available to the public and has a history of safe use for a purpose other than as a pesticide.
      5. The active ingredient has a mode of action that is not the result of toxicity to the target organism.

How to get on the list

Applications are not required to have an active ingredient added to the Allowable List.

As new pesticides are federally registered by PMRA, the Director will consider the criteria set out in section 17 of the Regulation and determine whether the active ingredient should be added to the Allowable List.

However, if a person who has registered a pesticide (or Canadian agent thereof) feels an active ingredient meets the criteria for inclusion on the Allowable List, they may submit a request to the Director for consideration (See subsection 17(2) of the Regulation).

The decision to add or remove an active ingredient from the Allowable List is subject to posting on Ontario’s Environmental Registry (Registry) for a 30-day consultation period.

A decision to include an active ingredient on the Allowable List cannot be posted on the Environmental Registry until a product containing the active ingredient has been registered by PMRA (see paragraph 1 of subsection 17(1) of the Regulation).

Once a decision notice is posted on the Registry, the Allowable List available on Ontario.ca will be updated.

Selling pesticides in Ontario

You may require a pesticide vendor licence if you or your business sells, offers to sell, or transfers pesticides in Ontario. The type of vendor licence you have will determine the pesticides you are allowed to sell. A licensed vendor is allowed to sell more pesticides than someone that sells pesticides without a licence. There are also storage and display requirements that apply only to pesticides that require a licence.

Because Ontario has a cosmetic pesticide ban, there are some federally registered pesticides that cannot be sold in Ontario. Class D pesticides that contain active ingredients other than those on the Allowable List and have only cosmetic uses are prohibited for sale in Ontario. No one can sell these pesticides, including licensed vendors and businesses that do not require a vendor licence. Also, the sale of certain pesticides (referred to as controlled sales pesticides) must be accompanied by a handout. Only licensed vendors are permitted to sell controlled sales pesticides.

Pesticides that can be sold without a vendor licence

The sale of certain pesticides does not require a licence. Some pesticides are exempt from the Act and the regulations with respect to the use, handling, storage, display, disposal, sale, offer for sale, transfer or transportation (section 13), and can be sold without a vendor licence. For certain other pesticides, the rules in the Act and regulations with respect to the use, handling, storage, display, disposal, sale, offer for sale, transfer or transportation apply, however there is an exemption from the requirement for a vendor licence (section 96). Sales outlets that sell only pesticides that do not require a licence (i.e. exemption applies under section 13 or 96) are not required to follow the rules for display and most of the rules for storage of pesticides (section 103, 109 and 112) that are discussed later.

Section 13 exemptions

Under section 13 of the Regulation, certain pesticides are exempt from the Act and the regulations with respect to the use, handling, storage, display, disposal, sale, offer for sale, transfer or transportation (section 13). These include:

  • A pesticide that is not required to be registered by the PMRA, including pesticides that are exempt from the application of the Pest Control Products Act (Canada) (unless it is an imported pesticide) or pesticides that are exempt from registration under the Pest Control Products Act (Canada). This does not mean that all pesticides without a registration number are allowed for sale and use in Ontario. For instance, homemade pesticides and pesticides that are subject to registration but have not been registered have health and environmental risks and are not allowed for sale or use. Note that this exemption does not apply to Class E pesticides or pesticides registered under the Fertilizers Act (Canada).
  • A pesticide that is a machine, apparatus or piece of equipment, if it does not contain or use another pesticide classified under this Regulation, a chemical agent or a microbiological agent. An example of an exempt pesticide would be a mousetrap that is not sold with an attractant or a machine that produces steam to kill pests.
  • A pesticide that has been registered by the PMRA, and is an algaecide, slimicide, bactericide, cleanser or disinfectant and that can be used only in the extermination of microorganisms or for manufacturing, and whose label does not indicate use in, on or over land or surface water. Examples of pesticides that could be exempt include most pool and spa chemicals, hard surface disinfectants, bactericides added to fuel and algaecides for industrial cooling towers.
  • A pesticide that is a living animal that is not classified under this Regulation and that is not registered under the Pest Control Products Act (Canada). Nematodes are an example of this exemption.
  • A pesticide that is a treated seed, that is not classified as a Class E pesticide, such as corn seed treated with a fungicide.

Section 96 exemptions

The exemptions under section 96 of the Regulation allow certain pesticides to be sold without a vendor licence. Pesticides that can be sold without a vendor licence under this exemption meet the following criteria:

  • The pesticide is a Class D pesticide
  • The pesticide is in a container that is less than or equal to 1 litre or 1 kilogram
  • The pesticide is in a ready-to-use-formulation, and
  • The pesticide is not a controlled sales pesticide

Information on how to determine if a pesticide is a controlled sales pesticide is found later in the document under the heading Rules for Class D (Domestic) pesticides. Vendors that are exempt from requiring a vendor licence under this section must still ensure that the only pesticides they sell are pesticides that are allowed for sale in Ontario. Information on how to determine if a pesticide is allowed for sale in Ontario is also found later in this document under the heading Rules for Class D (Domestic) pesticides.

A person who sells pesticides that are paints, stains, sealers or wood preservatives also does not require a vendor licence, as long as no food is prepared, sold or stored at the sales outlet.

Pesticides that require a vendor licence

Unless the only pesticides you sell are exempt under section 13 or 96, the sale of pesticides in Ontario requires a vendor licence. The type of vendor licence required depends on the class of pesticides you sell. There are three types of vendor licences:

  • Limited Vendor licence
  • General Vendor licence
  • Treated Seed Vendor licence

The holder of a Limited Vendor licence can sell all Class D pesticides that are allowed for sale in Ontario (e.g. not prohibited by the cosmetic pesticide ban). A Limited Vendor licence also allows the sale of bear repellant containing capsaicin which is a Class B pesticide, but does not allow the sale of any other Class A, B or C pesticides. There are storage and display requirements that apply to pesticides that a Limited Vendor Licence can sell and the vendor must ensure that a handout is provided when a controlled sales pesticide is sold.

The holder of a General Vendor Licence is allowed to sell Class A, B, C and D pesticides. A General Vendor can not sell Class B or C pesticides for use in, on or over land that contain active ingredients that are not on the Allowable List and have only cosmetic uses. Class D pesticides must also meet requirements to be allowed for sale in Ontario (e.g. not prohibited by the cosmetic pesticide ban).

The holder of a General Vendor licence must employ at least one certified outlet representative (training administered by The University of Guelph’s Ridgetown Campus). There are storage and display requirements that apply only to pesticides that require a General Vendor or Limited Vendor Licence for sale, and the vendor must ensure that a handout is provided when a controlled sales pesticide is sold.

The holder of a Treated Seed Vendor licence can sell Class E pesticides.

Pesticide vendor licences can be obtained by completing the online application using a ministry account. More information about licence requirements to sell pesticides in Ontario can be found in the Guide to Pesticide Licensing (as amended), the Pesticide Vendor Certification Course Manual (as amended) and the Regulation.

Rules for Class D (Domestic) pesticides

Ontario has specific rules with respect to the sale of Class D pesticides that relate to Ontario’s cosmetic pesticide ban. Some pesticides are not allowed to be sold at all by anyone, and other pesticides (controlled sales pesticides) can only be sold by a licensed vendor who provides a handout to the person purchasing the pesticide.

The prohibition on sale (subsection 7.1 (4) of the Act) ensures that only pesticides that are allowed for use under the cosmetic pesticide ban are available to the public. Some pesticides have multiple uses and some of these uses are allowed under the ban and some of them are not. Requirements for controlled sales pesticides ensure the public is informed (i.e. given a handout) when they purchase a pesticide that can be used for some, but not all, of the uses specified on the pesticide label.

The product label provides important information including the active ingredient, the pest that may be controlled, as well as the use area. This information is essential in determining if a pesticide can be sold in Ontario. The ministry no longer maintains a database identifying banned and controlled sales pesticides. This section, along with Appendix A, will help a vendor determine if a domestic pesticide is allowed for sale in Ontario and if it is a controlled sales pesticide.

Pesticides always allowed for sale

The cosmetic pesticide ban does not apply to pesticides unless they are used in, on, or over land. Accordingly, there are no prohibitions or restrictions that are related to the ban and apply to the sale of pesticides that are not for use in, on or over land (subsection 7.1(4) of the Act). Class D pesticides that do not have any uses on the label that are in, on or over land, such as a Class D pesticide that PMRA has registered for use in water or buildings only, are not subject to the cosmetic pesticides ban. These pesticides are allowed for sale and are not controlled sales pesticides.

Class D pesticides that contain only active ingredients on the Allowable List are always allowed for sale (paragraph 1 of subsection 97(1) of the Regulation) and are never controlled sales pesticides.

Identifying other pesticides allowed for sale, including controlled sales pesticides

A Class D pesticide that can be used in, on or over land, and contains an ingredient that is not on the Allowable list (i.e. a pesticide that is not described in 'Pesticides always allowed for sale') can only be sold if the label allows its use for one of the following reasons:

  • For health and safety purposes, if it has a use related to the destruction, prevention or control of animals that bite, sting, are venomous or carry disease (paragraph 3 of subsection 97(1) of the Regulation)
  • For health and safety purposes to control plants that are poisonous to the touch if the product contains glyphosate or glufosinate ammonium as the only active ingredient(s), does not require mixing or dilution and the label specifies it can be used for at least one plant that is poisonous to the touch (paragraph 4 of subsection 97(1) of the Regulation)
  • For uses related to a structural extermination if it is not a fungicide or herbicide (paragraph 5 of subsection 97(1) of the Regulation). These pesticide products are allowed to be used for health and safety purposes and uses integral to a structural extermination
  • For uses to which the ban does not apply, including water exterminations and use inside buildings

If a Class D pesticide can be used in, on or over land, contains an ingredient that is not on the Allowable List and does not have a use on the label described in the bulleted list above, the sale of that pesticide is prohibited.

Controlled sales pesticides are Class D pesticides that can be used in, on or over land and that have an active ingredient that is not on the allowable list. The label would also have at least one use listed above as well as one use that is not listed above. Controlled sales pesticides are subject to requirements for licensing, display and providing a handout.

Pesticides that only have uses on the label that are described in the bulleted list above are allowed for sale and are not controlled sales pesticides.

For example, if the label of a Class D pesticide that contains an active ingredient that is not on the Allowable List specifies only use to control wasps, the sale of the pesticide would be allowed in Ontario because it has a use related to the destruction of an animal that stings. This pesticide can then be used under the exception for the promotion of public health or safety (as defined in section 16 of the Regulation). This pesticide would not be a controlled sales pesticide as it has only excepted (allowed) uses on the label as identified by the bulleted list (section 97 paragraphs 3 to 6).

Similarly, if a Class D pesticide that contains an active ingredient that is not on the Allowable List is labelled only for use around the outside of a home to prevent ants from entering the home, the sale of the pesticide would be allowed in Ontario because it is an insecticide that controls a pest of a structure. This pesticide can then be used under the exception for use integral to a structural extermination (section 30 of the Regulation). This pesticide would also not be a controlled sales pesticide as it has only excepted (allowed) uses on the label as identified by the bulleted list (section 97 paragraphs 3 to 6). However, if the pesticide had both a use on the label to prevent ants from entering the home, and a use on the label to control ants in grass, the first use would be on the bulleted list as described above, and the second use (control of ants in a lawn) would not be on the bulleted list. The use to control ants in grass would be a cosmetic use and would be prohibited by the ban. This pesticide would be a controlled sales pesticide, and a handout would be required when this pesticide is sold.

Finally, if a Class D pesticide that contains an active ingredient that is not on the Allowable List has a label that indicated it could be used only to treat weeds in grass, the sale of this pesticide would be prohibited. It does not meet any of the circumstances of the bulleted list above (section 97, paragraphs 3 to 6).

For additional guidance in determining if a pesticide is controlled sales pesticide, see Appendix A.

A special note on bear repellant

A Limited or General Vendor can sell a Class B pesticide that is to be used to repel any animal and if the only active ingredient is capsaicin (e.g. bear repellent). The federal rules require certain conditions to be met in order to sell these products. These Class B pesticides are available through a Limited or General Vendor but are considered controlled sales pesticides in Ontario and additional sales and display restrictions apply (section 101 and paragraph 1 of section 103 of the Regulation). Bear repellents must be displayed so that they are inaccessible to customers and vendors must give customers purchasing these pesticides a handout.

Class E

A Treated Seed Vendor Licence is required for the sale of Class E pesticides. Treated seed vendors may work with sales representatives and direct-to-farm vendors. Please see the Neonicotinoid rules for vendors web page for more information about selling Class E pesticides.

Some of the requirements for Treated Seed Vendors changed as a result of the amendments in 2020 to Ontario’s Pesticide Act and the Regulation. A person is required to provide an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) certification number, a copy of the pest risk assessment report (PRAR) and a signed declaration that they have considered IPM principles to purchase treated seed, and sales representatives and direct-to-farm vendors must collect these documents and provide them to the treated seed vendor. The IPM certificate number will be required for the record of sale, but other than for the purposes of creating a record of sale, a treated seed vendor is no longer required to keep copies of these documents. Other record keeping requirements have also been reduced. There are no longer rules associated with the advertisement of Class E pesticides. Treated seed vendors are no longer required to provide the ministry with a list of Class E pesticides available for sale, report on sales or provide the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural affairs with copies of the PRAR. The Treated Seed Vendor licence does not expire.

Display requirements

Display requirements for pesticides will depend on the type of pesticides you sell. The display requirements discussed below and in section 103 do not apply to pesticides that are exempt under section 13 or 96. A vendor that does not require a licence is not able to sell pesticides with display requirements.

Only a licensed vendor can sell Class A, B or C pesticides or Class D controlled sales pesticides. These pesticides must be displayed in a manner where only the vendor has access. The public should not have access to the pesticide until provided by an employee. For example, a pesticide may be placed in a locked cabinet or behind a staffed counter. Empty containers, that have never held a pesticide, can be displayed to allow customers to read label information.

Only a licensed vendor can sell Class A, B, C pesticides, or Class D pesticides that are either controlled sales pesticides, pesticides that are not in a ready-to-use formulation (e.g. require mixing or dilution) or in a container that is greater than 1 litre or 1 kilogram in size. A vendor must ensure that these pesticides are not displayed in a manner that would subject human or animal food, beverages or personal use items to pesticide contamination.

Storage requirements

Storage requirements will vary depending on the type of pesticides you store. The storage requirements discussed below do not apply to pesticides that are exempt under section 13 (for more information, see "section 13 exemptions").

This section will provide information to help businesses that sell pesticides that are not required to have a licence, or that hold a Limited Vendor’s licence understand the requirements on storage that apply to them.

The holder of a General Vendor Licence is required to have a trained outlet representative that works full time at the sales outlet. Through the Pesticide Vendor Certification Course, the outlet representative has been trained in the requirements to store pesticides. Licensed Exterminators are trained in how to store pesticides through the Ontario Pesticide Training and Certification Core Manual.

Everyone that stores a pesticide must ensure that it is not stored in such a manner that the pesticide is likely to come into contact with food or drink intended for human or animal consumption. This storage requirement applies to all pesticides.

Only a licensed vendor can sell Class A, B, C pesticides, or Class D pesticides that are either controlled sales pesticides, pesticides that are not in a ready-to-use formulation (e.g. require mixing or dilution) or in a container that is greater than 1 litre or 1 kilogram in size. Certain storage requirements apply only to the pesticides mentioned above, and do not apply to pesticides that do not require a vendor’s licence (i.e. exempt under section 96). Under section 109 of the regulation, a person that stores the pesticides described above must follow the following rules for storage of those pesticides:

  1. The pesticide shall be stored in such a manner that the pesticide is not likely to impair the health or safety of any person.
  2. The pesticide shall be stored in an area that is maintained in good repair and in a clean and orderly condition with sufficient precautions taken to prevent the pesticide from contaminating the natural environment or any other pesticide stored in the same area.
  3. A pesticide storage sign, identified as 'Sign G' in the regulation (Sample Warning Signs for Pesticide Use), shall be prominently displayed near the area and at all entrances to the area where the pesticide is stored.
  4. A list of emergency telephone numbers, including those of the fire department, hospital and poison control centre shall be prominently displayed near the area where the pesticide is stored.

A person who is required to hold a vendor’s licence and who stores pesticides is also required to annually give written notice to the fire department of the storage of pesticides. Written notice shall be in the form approved by the Director and shall identify the pesticide, describe its location and conditions of storage and identify the person responsible for the pesticide.

There are specific exemptions from storage requirements that relate to a Class D pesticide that is a tree wound dressing, a wood preservative, a specified insecticide bait, and injection or a pesticide with a label that contains no active ingredient other than a soap, mineral oil or silicon dioxide. For more information, see Section 111 of the regulation.

Using pesticides around your home

Homeowners managing pests on their property can purchase and use certain Class D pesticides or can hire a licensed exterminator to help them manage pests.

Ontario’s cosmetic pesticide ban means that some pesticide products that have been registered for use by the federal PMRA are not allowed for use in Ontario. Ontario maintains an Allowable List that specifies the active ingredients that can be used for cosmetic purposes in Ontario. The rules regarding the use of cosmetic pesticides are the same for both homeowners and licensed exterminators, that is to say that only pesticides on the Allowable List can be used for cosmetic purposes by any person in Ontario.

Cosmetic uses of pesticides include (but are not limited to) the use of pesticides to control pests on lawns, gardens, patios, walkways, and driveways. There are exceptions to the cosmetic pesticide ban that allow pesticides with active ingredients that are not on the Allowable List to be used for specific purposes that are not cosmetic, such as to control poison ivy, destroy wasps or manage ants outdoors that could impact the structure of your home.

Most pesticides for sale to homeowners (Class D pesticides) can be sold by any retail establishment, although some must be sold by licensed retail outlets (vendors). Pesticides that can only be purchased from licensed retail outlets include larger pesticides (bigger than 1 L or 1 kg), pesticides that require mixing or dilution to use, and pesticides that are allowed to be used for certain uses but have also have other uses on the label that are not allowed under the cosmetic pesticide ban. The pesticide label is a legal document that is approved when the pesticide is registered by PMRA (see Federal Registration), and by law, pesticides must be used according to the label (subsection 9(3) of the Regulation). Most pesticides available through a licensed vendor can be used in all of the ways that are listed on the pesticide label. However, if you purchase a pesticide that by law can only be used for some of the purposes specified on the pesticide label, the licensed vendor is required to provide you with information about the uses of that pesticide that are allowed under the cosmetic pesticide ban and the uses that are not.

As an example, if you have poison ivy on your property, you can purchase certain pesticides containing glyphosate to manage the poison ivy (non-cosmetic use). It would be against the law to use this pesticide to manage dandelions on your lawn (cosmetic use), even if that use is specified on the pesticide product label. Another example is animal repellents, which may have cosmetic uses (allowed only if the active ingredient is on the Allowable List) and non-cosmetic uses (allowed). Cosmetic uses include uses to deter animals from undesirable behaviours such as biting/chewing on trees, bushes and ornamental plants. An animal repellent that is used for this purpose must only have active ingredients on the Allowable List. Non-cosmetic uses of domestic animal repellents include use on a structure (e.g. fences, siding, posts), and use to control a specific animal behavior that is directly associated with the transmission of disease to humans, such as the use to control animals that are known to transmit viruses to humans by defecating in gardens.

The changes in 2020 to Ontario's Pesticide Act and the Regulation will not affect the way you buy pesticides from a licensed vendor. There are no changes to the rules around the way you use pesticides in and around your home as a result of the changes in 2020 to Ontario’s Pesticide Act and the Regulation.

Using pesticides on your farm

Farmers no longer need to wait for federally registered pesticides to be classified in Ontario to be able to use them on their farms. Pesticides are automatically classified in Ontario when they are federally registered for use by PMRA (see section 2 of the Regulation).

Farmers that meet the qualifications set out in section 43 of the Regulation, including passing the Grower Pesticide Safety Course, can buy and use most Class B and C pesticides on their farm without an exterminator’s licence. Class B and C pesticides were previously classified as Class 2, 3 or 4. Trained farmers working under the supervision of a person meeting the qualifications set out in section 43 of the Regulation can mix, load and apply most Class B and C pesticides.

Detailed information about the allowed use of pesticides in and around your farm can be found in the training manual for the Grower Pesticide Safety Course (as amended), or by referring to the Pesticides Act and the Regulation.

Licence exemption requirements for farmers

Certified farmer

To be exempt from needing an exterminator’s licence, a farmer must be at least 16 years old and pass the Grower Pesticide Safety Course. This includes taking a one-day course as well as passing a two-part exam, delivered and administered by the University of Guelph’s Ridgetown Campus.

If you meet the qualifications set out in section 43 of the Regulation you do not need an exterminator’s licence to use most Class B and C pesticides on an agricultural operation that you own or operate, or to perform a land extermination using Class B and C pesticides on an agricultural operation that you do not own or operate, provided certain requirements are met. Farmers cannot use fumigant gases (other than in the fumigation of groundhog burrows) without an exterminator’s licence. Certain uses of pesticides require more than one certified farmer, such as the use of a suspension in air. For more detailed information about the use of pesticides, refer to the Pesticides Act and the Regulation.

Farmers who meet the criteria in section 43 of the Regulation are also able to supervise trained farmers that mix, load and apply Class B and C pesticides, provided certain conditions are met.

Supervised and assistant farmers

A person that is 16 years of age, has successfully completed an approved course for handling and using pesticides on an agricultural operation, and performs an extermination while under the supervision of a certified farmer is considered a supervised farmer. A supervised farmer can use a Class B or C pesticide under supervision, however, they are restricted from performing certain tasks and supervising farmers are required to comply with certain conditions as described in section 44 of the Regulation.

These rules apply to all supervised farmers, including family members, farm employees and seasonal workers. Similar rules apply to a person (assistant farmer) who assists with an extermination but does not perform the extermination (see section 45 of the Regulation).

Exemption from licensing for farmers

All farmers in Ontario are exempt from requiring an exterminator’s licence to use Class D pesticides on their farm. Prior to changes to Ontario's Pesticide Act and the Regulation made in 2020, this exemption applied to certain Class B and C pesticides (previously Class 4). Farmers must be a certified farmer, a supervised farmer or an assistant farmer to be exempt from licensing requirements for use of Class B and C pesticides.

42. A farmer is exempt from subsection 5 (1) of the Act in respect of an extermination that he or she performs for the purposes of the agricultural operation that he or she owns or operates on a regular basis if the extermination is performed by means of a Class D pesticide.

Pesticide permits on farms

Some uses of pesticides over land on a farm require a permit. A permit is required to use a Class B pesticide that is sprayed aerially. Amendments to the Pesticides Act and the Regulation in 2020 mean that permits are no longer required to use certain pesticides (Class C pesticides that were previously in Class 2) when applied by air, however, you will now need a permit in the situations described above where you may not have needed one before (e.g. Class B pesticides that were previously in Class 3 or Class 4). There are also permit requirements that are related to water and structural exterminations (e.g. fumigant gas).

Class E on farms

Farmers who want to buy and use certain neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seeds (Class E) must meet regulatory requirements, including completion of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) training, a PRAR and a signed declaration that they have considered IPM principles. Farmers need to provide these pieces of information, along with their IPM training certificate number to buy treated seeds.

Farmers need to do a pest risk assessment once for each farm property on which they intend to plant Class E seed and complete a PRAR once for each agricultural operation. Farmers do not need to repeat the pest risk assessment each year. A farmer does not need to hire someone to complete a PRAR, unless the farmer has not completed IPM training. IPM training is administered by the University of Guelph’s Ridgetown Campus and only needs to be completed once (i.e. does not expire).

IPM-certified farmers can also supervise persons planting Class E seed. There are no limits to the number of people that an IPM-certified farmer can supervise.

Farmers do not need to take IPM training if they are a farm owner who hires people to purchase and plant seeds. In this case, the person they hire (e.g., farm manager or supervisor) will need to take IPM training.

For more information about using Class E pesticides, please visit the Neonicotinoid rules for growers web page.

Using pesticides as a licensed exterminator

Licensed exterminators no longer need to wait for federally registered pesticides to be classified in Ontario to be able to use them. Pesticides are automatically classified in Ontario when they are federally registered for use by PMRA (see section 2 of the Regulation). Licensed exterminators use primarily Class B and C pesticides. These pesticides were previously classified as Class 2, 3 and 4.

Licensed exterminators can buy pesticides that are not allowed for some uses under Ontario’s cosmetic pesticide ban. Licensed exterminators are required to understand Ontario’s cosmetic pesticide ban including the Allowable list, in order to identify pesticides that are allowed for cosmetic use, exceptions to the ban that allow other pesticides to be used and to adhere to prohibitions on cosmetic use. The ministry no longer maintains a database to assist licensed exterminators in identifying pesticides that are only allowed to be used in, on or over land under an exception to the cosmetic pesticide ban or assist them identifying the type of sign that must be used to notify the public of pesticide use.

Licensing requirements

Unless exempt, a person who uses pesticides requires an exterminator’s licence. An example of a person exempt from requiring a licence is a person supervised by a licensed exterminator, if conditions are met (section 46 of the Regulation). Users of Class D pesticides on their own property are also exempt (section 70 of the Regulation).

The exterminator’s licence you require depends on the type of extermination you are performing. Ontario has 15 different licence categories that ensure pesticide users are trained for the type of structural, land or water extermination that they will be performing (e.g. Fumigation Soil, Aerial, Aquatic Vegetation etc.).

Each type of exterminator’s licence has specific authorizations for the use of pesticides and conditions which may apply. Authorizations for pesticides used under a specific licence may limit the type of pesticides that can be used (e.g. herbicides only, specified fumigant gases).

To qualify for a licence, you must be 16 years of age as well as complete and pass a ministry-approved pesticide certification course. The courses and exams are delivered and administered by University of Guelph’s Ridgetown Campus. Once you have passed the exams, you need to apply online for a licence in Ontario with a ServiceOntario and ministry account.

Technicians and trainees

Licensed exterminators work with technicians and trainees who can use most Class C and D pesticides.

A technician is at least 16 years of age and has passed a course approved by the Director for technicians concerning basic pesticide safety. A trainee is at least 16 years of age and uses pesticides under the direct supervision of a licensed exterminator at all times.

Technicians and trainees must not use Class B pesticides. There are also certain Class C pesticides, including avicide, rodenticide, fumigant or suspension in air that can only be used in the presence of a licensed exterminator authorized to use the pesticide. For more information on conditions that must be met for a technician or trainee to use pesticides, see sections 46-48 of the Regulation.

Changes to use by licensed exterminators

Changes to the Pesticides Act and the Regulation in 2020 increased the number of pesticides that can be used by certain licence holders. Fumigation Commodity licence holders can now use all insecticides (other than certain fumigant gases) to manage pests of commodities. New conditions added to the Fumigation Soil licence (Table to section 53 of the Regulation) provide authorization for certain land exterminations. Changes to the Regulation also expand the allowed uses of pesticides for some other licence holders. These include the control of animals that bite, sting, are venomous or carry disease on land (e.g. control of ticks on a lawn) by a structural exterminator (subsection 71(1)(c) of the Regulation) or a mosquito/biting flies exterminator (subsection 71(2) of the Regulation) the control of plants that can affect certain structures (section 67.2 of the Regulation) by an Industrial Vegetation class exterminator, and the control of vegetation as described under sections 23, 28, or 29 of the Regulation by a Landscape class exterminator.

Changes to signage requirements

If you are providing written notice other than the posting of signs (in accordance with the Regulation) of a land extermination using a pesticide that is not on the Allowable List, written notice must include a description of the exception to the cosmetic pesticide ban that applies to the extermination (subsection 80 (1) of the Regulation).

New options have been added to provide notice of a land extermination other than the posting of signs. Additional notification methods provide options for golf courses, persons performing exterminations on portions of a highway in a rural area and persons performing exterminations using only pesticides on the Allowable List. For more information on these alternative methods of notification, see section 79 of the Regulation.

Download: pesticide use notice and warning signs

Changes to permits

The alignment of Ontario pesticide classes with federal classes resulted in some shifts in the uses of pesticides that are subject to permit requirements.

The requirement for a permit for aerial application of Class 2 pesticides is realigned to require a permit for aerial application of Class B pesticides. A permit is still not required for the aerial application of Bacillus thuringiensis serotype kurstaki (Btk) (section 72 of the Regulation).

Structural extermination permits continue to be required for fumigations with a fumigant gas in buildings, vehicles and structures (section 58 of the Regulation). Water extermination permits continue to be required, unless exempt (section 7(2) of the Act). Exemptions from water extermination permits do not apply to exterminations using diuron or acrolein (section 84 of the Regulation). Land extermination permits continue to be required for the use of picloram and aerial application of pesticides to a Crown forest (section 72 of the Regulation).

For more information about pesticides in Ontario, contact the ministry’s Public Information Centre:

Toll-free: 1-800-565-4923
In the GTA: 416-325-4000
TTY: 1-800-515-2759
Email: picemail.moe@ontario.ca
Website: ontario.ca/pesticides

Appendix A: Decision tree for vendors selling Class D pesticides

  • Step 1. Compare pesticide active ingredients to the Allowable List.
    • If all ingredients are on the Allowable List, then the pesticide is Allowed for sale (without additional requirements)
    • If at least one ingredient is not on the Allowable List then proceed to Step 2.
      • Step 2. Compare the uses on the label of the pesticide against this list then proceed to Step 3.
        • Allowed under the ban

          1. it has a use related to the destruction, prevention or control of animals that bite, sting, are venomous or carry disease (health and safety purposes)

          2. to control plants that are poisonous to the touch, if (1) the product contains only glyphosate or glufosinate ammonium as the only active ingredient(s), (2) does not require mixing or dilution and (3) the label specifies it can be used for at least one plant that is poisonous to the touchfootnote * (health and safety purposes)

          3. it is not a fungicide or herbicide and is used outdoors to control a pest of a structure (health and safety purposes and uses integral to a structural extermination)
        • Ban does not apply

          4. because the pesticide is used indoors, such as control of mites on houseplants, or cockroaches

          5. because it is used in, on, or over water, such as for the control of mosquito larvae
      • Step 3: Determine which of the following applies
        • if all uses of the pesticide are described by items 1-5, then the pesticide is Allowed for sale (without additional requirements)
        • if at least one use is described by items 1-5, but not all uses are described by items 1-5, then the pesticide is a Controlled Sales pesticide (additional sales requirements apply)
        • if no uses of the pesticide are described by items 1-5, then the pesticide cannot be sold