AMHERST – Pesticide Free Nova Scotia Coalition (PFNS) investigated and found eight violations across Nova Scotia, some of which were in Amherst. The eight violations was a large increase from last year’s single violation.
“Eight violations were found at five different stores,” said PFNS Coordinator Stephanie Hughes. “There were three kinds of violations that we noticed. Some were not properly storing accepted use products, products deemed to be risky enough that they should be held inaccessible until time of sale, so behind a manned counter in or a locked cabinet.”
Other violations included failure to have visible signage and information available and failing to have a certified vendor on staff able to work with the pesticides.
Hughes said when the province banned cosmetic pesticides, the coalition was behind them and said people should be more conscious when purchasing the products.
“The government took a really great leap forward among Canadian provinces to address the issue of risky pesticides and try to control it at a retail level,” said Hughes. “Controlling it at the retail level goes above and beyond, for example, what municipalities can do, which is adjust things at the usage level.”
Based on the recent audit, Hughes said they found that the legislation is not being properly resourced.
“This year, there was quite a focus on education at the department of environment,” she said. “But it seems to come at the expense of having a really good monitoring effort, where they’d have auditors go to stores, assess the stores on a number of criteria and set up strict enforcements so the retailers would get the message early on that this legislation is a priority for the government, and that’s what we’re not seeing.”
Hughes said the first audit done after implementing the legislation showed only one violation, which was determined after a larger audit. She said to find eight violations in a smaller audit was startling.
“Monitoring hasn’t been up to par with education,” she said. “You do have to educate about the legislation but it can’t come at the expense of enforcement, and sometimes there’s no better education than a $2,500 fine for not following the rules.”
In order for the number of violations to go down, Hughes said there needs to be a bigger connection between education, monitoring and enforcements. All the violations were reported on Oct. 4. Hughes said she received reassurance that there would be a follow-up done to explain what measures were taken and why such measures were taken. But, with the lack of monitoring, Hughes worries that it’s sending a message that it’s ok for retailers to not comply with the new legislation.