Information on Neonicotinoid Treated Corn and Soybean Seed Regulations in Ontario

What you need to know as a farmer…

June 2020: Amendments to the Pesticides Regulation

Amendments to Ontario’s Pesticides Regulation are now finalized, reducing administrative burden and complexity by ending provincial classification of pesticides and aligning classes with the federal government’s pesticide categories, as other provinces do. Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA), under the authority of the Pest Control Products Act, registers pesticides after completing a rigorous review of scientific studies on potential impacts on human health and the environment. Ontario will maintain its general regulatory requirements, including licensing and permitting, realigned to the federal categories.

Farmers will continue to be exempt from the need for a licence to use Class B and C pesticides; however, a farmer would be required to be trained and certified to use Class B and C pesticides because these classes include higher hazard pesticides. This requirement would come into effect January 1, 2021.

Vendors will require a licence for the sale of Class D pesticides, with exemptions that would ensure that most of the products that have been available for sale without a licence can still be sold without a licence. These exemptions would apply to pesticides that are Class D pesticides that are in a container of less than 1 L or 1 kg in size and are in a ready-to-use formulation, but would not apply to pesticides that require the purchaser to be given a handout explaining uses allowed under the cosmetic pesticide ban. This requirement would come into effect January 1, 2021.

The current requirement for a permit to aerially apply Class 2 pesticides is changed to a permit requirement to aerially apply Class B pesticides (Restricted class which is identified by the PMRA as being of higher concern), with the exception of a land extermination performed aerially using Bacillus thuringiensis serotype kurstaki (Btk) for the purpose of maintaining a tree canopy (i.e. to prevent the injury or death of trees caused by insects such as gypsy moths). This will maintain the status quo for municipalities and others that do not currently need a permit to use these pesticides.

The general cosmetic pesticides ban will be retained, including existing exceptions (e.g. golf courses, forestry, health and safety and other prescribed exceptions). Cemeteries are added as an excepted use to the cosmetic pesticides ban, with conditions, such as training in Integrated Pest Management and producing an annual report of pesticide use. A single list of allowed pesticides will replace the current classes. Provisions continue to prohibit the use of pesticides for cosmetic purposes unless the ministry director has determined that the pesticide (the active ingredient) is appropriate for use for a cosmetic purpose and has listed the active ingredient in a prescribed document. The criteria used to identify active ingredients to be added to the list will be the consistent with those currently used (e.g. naturally occurring, low toxicity) and will be prescribed in regulation.

Ontario remains one of only two provinces that restricts the use of neonicotinoid (NNI)-treated corn and soybean seeds. After 5 years of these restrictions, the ministry is adjusting administrative requirements on farmers and vendors. Changes retain necessary pest risk assessments and training for farmers, and retention of key sales data for vendors, while reducing duplicative requirements.


Requirements for farmers

The requirements for farmers ensure that you will only use neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seeds when there is a demonstrated risk of a pest problem. 

If you want to buy and use neonicotinoid-treated seeds, you will be required to:

  1. complete the integrated pest management (IPM) training
  2. complete a pest risk assessment and a pest risk assessment report
  3. sign a declaration called an IPM Written Declaration Form stating that you have considered IPM principles to decrease the risk of early season insect damage.

You need to provide these pieces of information, along with your IPM training certificate number, to the sales representative or seed vendor, including direct-to-farm seed vendors, from whom you purchase the seeds or to the custom seed treater used for treating seeds with neonicotinoids.

When using neonicotinoid-treated seeds, you are required to:

  • only plant them on the farm property/properties identified in your pest risk assessment report
  • use them in accordance with the directions set out on the federal government’s label or tag
  • maintain current records when you plant treated seed
  • retain these records for at least two years

There are no requirements for using non-treated seed or fungicide-only treated seed. Using non-neonicotinoid-treated seed can help protect pollinators and reduce the impact of neonicotinoids on the environment.



Learn about how the province manages pesticides to ensure strong environmental protection, while keeping Ontario open for business. Learn about pesticide classification, licenses and training.