Premier Wynne’s Mandate Letters- Marching Orders in Ontario to Protect Pollinators
In a move for transparency, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has made public her mandate letters to the ministers of her cabinet. In this blog post, we are cherry picking points from her letters related to pollinator health. Among her opening statements she says, “The people of Ontario have entrusted their government to be a force for good,” and comments that the cabinet “will lead from the activist centre.”
As you will see from the excerpts below, Ontario’s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Jeff Leal has been tasked with the mandate to strengthen pollinator health and to yield a Pollinator Health Strategy and action plan to reduce neonicotinoid use for the 2015 growing season. This strategy will include measurable targets and a reduction in the use of coated seeds for 2016.
While it is good to have measurable targets and dates, we wonder why the reduction in use of coated seeds couldn’t have been accomplished in the the coming year, 2015. We would have thought that an activist force for good would mobilize around a ban of neonics now in the Province of Ontario, but we may have to wait for the 2015 mandate letters for that. In the meantime, honey bees, wild bees and other pollinators remain in dramatic decline.
Excerpts from the mandate letter to the Honourable Jeff Leal, Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs; the Premier provides instructions on priorities for the year 2014:
Ensuring Sustainability includes “Strengthening pollinator health. You will work with other ministers and stakeholders to develop a Pollinator Health Strategy for Ontario that includes sustainable, long-term initiatives aimed at improving the health of bees and other pollinators.”
“Working with the Minister of the Environment and Climate change, other ministers, industry partners and stakeholders, develop an action plan to meaningfully reduce neonicotinoid use for the 2015 growing season, including measurable targets. I also ask that you develop a system that requires a reduction in the use of seeds treated with neonicotinoid insecticides for the 2016 growing season through regulatory mechanisms, permitting or further measure as needed..”
and under Providing Business Support to Farmers:
“Amending the Crop Insurance Act to enable the province to offer insurance for a broader range of agricultural products, such as bees and livestock.”
Ontario Minister of Environment and Climate Change the Honourable Glen Murray is instructed to make Improving Pollinator Health a priority by supporting the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs in efforts to strengthen pollinator health. As Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Glen Murray’s mandate is to ensure “clean air, water and land,” and we hope to see him looking at the effects of neonics in water.
These marching orders are in place in Ontario to save the bees – and it seems as though some tangible measures and targets have been set. Good stuff, but we wonder- will it be enough and soon enough?
The mandate letters are viewable below: