04/22/2014 01:56 EDT | Updated 06/22/2014 05:59 EDT

Proposed Manitoba ban on synthetic chemical pesticides would have exemptions

WINNIPEG - Manitoba is set to join Ontario, Quebec and other provinces in slapping restrictions on the use of synthetic chemical pesticides.

A bill put before the legislature Tuesday would forbid the use of such pesticides on lawns, school grounds, playgrounds, hospital properties and other areas, starting Jan. 1. Homeowners would have a further one-year grace period.

"Health Canada warns that pesticides should only be applied where no children, elderly persons or pets are present," said Manitoba Conservation Minister Gord Mackintosh, who first promised the bill last year.

"The approach from experts is that we reduce exposure where these pesticides are not really needed."

As in Ontario and other areas with similar bans, Manitoba plans to exempt farm land, golf courses and residential gardens from the restriction, so the chemical pesticides will still be sold in stores.

Offenders could face fines, but the details have yet to be worked out, Mackintosh said.

The move was welcomed by the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.

"The science shows that people who are exposed to pesticides are at increased risk for a variety of cancers, including cancers of the brain, prostate, kidney," spokesperson Gideon Forman said.

Because the synthetic pesticides will still be sold in stores, homeowners could still buy them and apply them to their lawns in violation of the law. Mackintosh said he expects that most people will not.

"In other provinces, this really has become self-enforcing. This has not put a new burden on enforcement officers."

Some lawn care companies have complained that biological and organic pesticides cost more and are not as effective. Mackintosh said more products come on the market every year and prices he has seen in major stores are comparable to the synthetic sprays.