PMRA Workload Expected to Increase, Review of Re-Evaluation Process Underway

Health Canada PMRA release Mar 27, 2019

Pesticides are regulated under the Pest Control Products Act (PCPA), which is administered by Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA).  In the coming years, it is expected that PMRA’s Post-Market Pesticide Re-evaluation Program will face a significant increase in workload pressures.  In response, PMRA is undertaking a fulsome evaluation of business practices to seek efficiencies and improvements to the post-market program and exploring options to improve the overall sustainability of the program.

PMRA regulates pesticides under the authority of the Pest Control Products Act (PCPA).  The Act requires that PMRA initiates the re-evaluation of each pesticide at least every 15 years or sooner, to address changes in data requirements or new approaches to risk assessments.  The policy that guides the re-evaluation program ensures that pesticides on the Canadian market continue to meet current health and environmental safety standards. 

In addition to cyclical re-evaluations, the Act requires that a special review be conducted when new information provides reasonable grounds to believe that the health or environmental risks of the product are, or its value is, no longer acceptable, or when an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member country prohibits all uses of a pesticide for health or environmental reasons. 

Any unacceptable risks identified through re-evaluations or special reviews requires PMRA to initiate action to protect health or the environment, either by placing additional restrictions on the way the pesticide is allowed to be used or removing it from the market entirely.

The number of pesticide re-evaluations that PMRA is required to initiate per the 15 year cyclical requirement is increasing relative to previous years.  In the next 5 years PMRA is required to initiate 145 new re-evaluations which are approximately 2.5 times the re-evaluations that were initiated in the previous 5 years.  In addition to the increase in the number of re-evaluations required, PMRA is seeing an increase in the scale and complexity of pesticide re-evaluations. 

As a result, and in keeping with continuous improvement, the PMRA is conducting a review of its post-market pesticide program with a goal of achieving a modern, efficient and sustainable re-evaluation program.  The Post-Market Re-Evaluation Program Review (the Review) officially launched in September 2018 and is undertaking a comprehensive evaluation of possible efficiencies and improvements to the program.

PMRA recognizes the importance of hearing the perspectives of a wide range of stakeholders as a key component of the review. As such, PMRA set out to meet with stakeholders across the country to seek feedback on the current and future state of the re-evaluation program.  The consultations were divided into two phases: 

Phase 1- Information Gathering (September- December 2018)
Phase 2- Program Improvements Recommendations and  Analysis (February - April 2019) 

PMRA has compiled a What Was Heard’ report summarizing the stakeholder consultations that were conducted face-to-face at various locations across Canada, through webinars and through the collection of written submissions from stakeholders.  The report reflects the summary of the ideas, comments and feedback that were raised during the Phase 1 stakeholder consultations

It does not attempt to include every comment received, nor does it imply consensus on the part of all participants.  It presents a summary of what was heard from input that was wide-ranging, broad-based and not always consistent.  These views will be considered to inform the identification and analysis of improvements, which will be presented for further discussion during Phase 2 consultations in spring 2019.  The views expressed are those of the participants in the consultation process and should not be seen as representative of either PMRA or the Government of Canada positions or views.