Ministère de l'Environnement
et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques

The Pesticides Management Code

Protecting the environment and health in municipal environment

Updated: January 2021

Photo : Pierre Gignac, © Le Québec en images, CCDMD
The Pesticides Management Code aims to reduce the health risks that these products represent, particularly for children and for the environment. Its priority targets are public, parapublic and municipal land and childcare centres, primary schools and secondary schools.

Pesticides may be used as part of your municipal activities or in your jurisdiction. They are routinely used in several sectors of activity and areas such as homes, to maintain green spaces, pest management, agriculture, forestry, road, railway and power corridors and industry. These products control most nuisance or undesirable pests including plants, insects and mites, plant illnesses, rodents and other vertebrates.

Using pesticides may represent a health risk and contaminate water, air and soil. The underground and surface water sampling program undertaken implemented by the Ministère in certain areas characterised by intensive cultivation regularly reveal the presence of pesticides in the wells and rivers sampled. Also, a study carried out in Québec reveals the presence of pesticides used to treat lawns, parks and golf courses in the effluent of wastewater treatment plants.

How does the Pesticides Management Code concern you?

This legislation applies to the storage, preparation and application of pesticides in all sectors of activity. Permit and certificate holders targeted by the Regulation respecting permits and certificates for the sale and use of pesticides must comply with the provisions of the Code.

Before contracting out work, make sure that whoever will be handling pesticides holds the required permit.

Pesticide categories are based on the Regulation respecting permits and certificates for the sale and use of pesticides, and differ from the Federal categories listed on the product label.

Federal classification Québec classification
  Class 1
Pesticides for restricted use Class 2
Pesticides for commercial, agricultural or industrial use Classes 3 and 3A*
Pesticides for domestic use Classes 4 and 5
* Neonicotinoids (clothianidin, imidacloprid or thiamethoxam) that coat the seeds of certain crops (oats, wheat, canola, corn, grain corn, sweet corn, barley or soybeans)

General rules for preparation and application

Note: The Code sections to which the regulation refers is provided as further reference, if required.

The provisions below apply to any person required to hold a permit (enterprise or organization) or certificate (individual), for all sectors of activity.

  • The preparation or application of a pesticide must be carried out in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions appearing on the label of the pesticide. Where instructions and a provision of the Pesticides Management Code are inconsistent, the more restrictive applies (s. 36).

  • Adequate equipment and material must be available on the operation site capable of stopping any leak or release of Class 1 to Class 3, Class 4 or Class 5 pesticides during the operations and if required of cleaning the premises. The person who prepares or loads the pesticides must remain on the site throughout the operations (s. 38).

  • The water supply system used in the preparation of the pesticide must be designed to prevent pesticide backflow to the water supply source (s. 37).

  • The equipment used for the application, loading or unloading of pesticides must be in good working order and be adapted to the type of work to be done (s. 39).

  • The person applying pesticides must ensure that, at the time of the application, no person other than a person participating in the application is present on the premises or is exposed to pesticides (s. 40).

Regulations directly affecting municipal activities

Pesticide storage

Every pesticide must be stored in premises where the ambient conditions, in particular temperature, humidity and precipitation, are not likely to alter the pesticide, its container or label. It must also be stored in such manner that its content is not released into the environment (s. 5). In addition, a sign (French, PDF, 77 KB) indicating a list of certain services (e.g. the Centre antipoison du Québec) and their telephone numbers must be posted in a conspicuous place near the storage area (s. 21). Adequate equipment and material must be available to stop a leak or the release of pesticides (s. 20).

The premises must have containment works (s. 18). Containment works means a floor, a platform or a watertight basin, built to contain and allow for the complete recovery of any pesticide leak or spillage (s. 1).

It is also prohibited to store Class 1, Class 2 or Class 3 pesticides within a flood area. Certain conditions, however, apply to existing storage sites, located within a flood area (s. 16, 17 and 22).

Green Spaces

A municipality or metropolitan community is prohibited from applying certain pesticides containing an active ingredient listed in Schedule I of the Pesticides Management Code on lawns that it owns (s. 31). This restriction does not apply to land that is fenced in or equipped with a watering system used only for sports purposes by persons older than 14 years of age.

The provisions below apply to any person required to hold a Subclass C4, C5, D4 or D5 permit (enterprise or organization) or Subclass CD4 or CD5 certificate (individual).

These pesticides are prohibited from use on private property and commercial land (s. 68).The application of a pesticide impregnated or mixed with fertilizer is prohibited, unless these products are kept in separate containers (s. 67).

Active ingredients prohibited for use on lawns in certain areas
(Schedule I of the Pesticides Management Code)

Category of Pesticides Active Ingredients




Herbicides 2,4-D (present as sodium salt)
2,4-D (present as ester)
2,4-D (present as acid)
2,4-D (present as amine salt)
MCPA (present as ester)
MCPA (present as amine salt)
MCPA (present as potassium or sodium salt)
Mecoprop (present as acid)
Mecoprop (present as amine salt)
Mecoprop (present as potassium or sodium salt)

Note: Active Ingredient Trade Names (Classes 3 and 4)

A person who applies pesticides must take all measures to avoid contaminating a surface or object that must not be treated. The person must also ensure that no pet is exposed to the pesticide; that all openings through which there may be pesticide infiltration be closed (s. 70).

A sign (French, PDF, 79 KB) must be posted following the application of pesticides on a lawn or a paved surface or on trees or bushes (s. 71). The sign display a warning indicating not to touch the treated surfaces for 24 hours after application. It must also indicate the plants treated, the active ingredient used, the date and time of application, the registration number of the pesticide and the permit holder’s and certificate holder’s address and telephone number (s. 72).

Road corridors

The use of pesticides for the maintenance of a road corridor is subject to several regulations previously set forth in the ministerial authorization. Regulations concerning the application of pesticides address persons required to hold a permit or certificate, whereas regulations concerning notices and reports address owners and operators of a road corridor.

The Pesticides Management Code requires that before work begins advance notices must be published in a newspaper or broadcast on radio or television (s. 63) and the regional office of the Ministère notified in writing, including certain information about the treatment plan (s. 64). Also, application distances from bodies of water, watercourses (s. 59) and where there is human activity (s. 60), called protected immovables, when applying phytocides apply and vary depending on the application technique and product used. Work must be marked off to properly identify the zones that require protecting (s. 62). Finally, the owner or operator of the road corridor must keep a register of the work (s. 65).

BeeBiting insects

Some 40 municipalities and other promoters subscribe to an annual biting insects control program to reduce the nuisance caused by mosquitoes and black flies. These applications aim to eliminate the larvae of mosquitoes and black flies using a larvicide applied directly to the water where the larvae are identified. These applications require a ministerial authorization from the regional office as set forth by section 22 of the Environment Quality Act. The Pesticides Management Code prohibits permit or certificate holders from using pesticides to treat adult stinging insects (atmospheric treatment), unless performed as a barrier application and a larvicide application program (s. 51).

Municipal, domestic or industrial aeration tank

For maintenance reasons, those responsible for municipal, domestic or industrial aeration tank the type « pond » must eliminate the vegetation growing around aeration tank must be removed. Since these ponds usually have an outlet and the water is not confined, there is a risk that pesticides used to eliminate the vegetation may contaminate the water downstream from the treated area.

For information on the regulatory framework and measures to be taken to reduce the environmental impacts associated with the maintenance of these structures, consult “Contrôle de la végétation à l’aide de pesticides aux abords d'un bassin d'aération municipal, domestique ou industriel de type étang(French, PDF, 247 KB)

Other activities

Municipalities that wish to control certain birds, like pigeons, and use an avicide to do so, must place the treated birdseed in a feeder designed to prevent the wind from carrying the seed away. The feeder must have the permit holder's name and telephone as well as the telephone number for the Centre antipoison du Québec (s. 53). The use of strychnine is prohibited in Québec (s. 28).

Municipalities that operate ornamental plant greenhouses and which carry out pesticide spraying (atmospheric treatment with a fogger or with a fumigant) must, at the time the work begins, post a sign (French, PDF, 79 KB) at each entrance to the treated premises indicating the date and time access will be allowed (s. 43 and 44).

Regulations affecting other activities carried out in municipal territories

Golf courses

Golf course owners or operators, including municipalities, applying Class 1, 2 and 3 pesticides inclusive, must every three years,  send the Ministère a pesticide reduction plan duly signed by a member of the Ordre des agronomes du Québec. During the three years preceding the plan submission, the total quantities for each category of pesticide (fungicides, insecticides, herbicides, etc.) must be compiled to determine the reduction objectives for each pesticide category. Also, several elements must be considered in the reduction plan. Requirements for the reduction plan and signposting (French, PDF, 80 KB) when applying the pesticides are under sections 73 and 74 of the Pesticides Management Code.

Childcare centres and schools

Restrictions apply inside and outside facilities used by children, namely childcare centres and other daycare services recognized, and public and private preschools, primary schools, secondary schools, and schools for Native students (s. 32). The only pesticides authorized for use in these places are biopesticides, active ingredients listed in Schedule II (s. 32) and other active ingredients under certain conditions listed in section 32.1 of the Pesticides Management Code. These pesticides must be applied outside the establishment's care, teaching or activity periods. The application must also be followed by a period of at least 8 or 12 hours before the services or activities resume in the treated premises and meet signposting and written notification requirements (s. 32 and 33).

Note: Active Ingredient Trade Names (Class 3 - Classes 4 and 5).

Agricultural areas

Main new requirements

  • The application of the highest-risk pesticides used in agriculture and the application of Class 3A pesticides in or on the ground are prohibited unless justification signed by an agrologist has previously been obtained.
  • Existing mandatory distances from lakes, watercourses, wetlands, water withdrawal sites and ditches must be respected for the application of Class 3A pesticides in or on the ground.
  • When pesticides are applied by aircraft near bicycle paths that are physically separated from vehicular traffic and have their own right-of-way, the same mandatory distances must be maintained as for protected immovables.

In addition to the general regulations governing storage and use of pesticides, those governing mandatory distances from lakes, watercourses and wetlands (s. 29 and 86), water withdrawal sites (s. 50) and areas of human activity (s. 52 and 86) must be respected when preparing and applying pesticides on the ground and by aircraft.

These mandatory distances should be taken into consideration when plotting new residential subdivisions juxtapose lots under cultivation. This measure will foster good neighbourly conduct.


Pesticides and herbicides are used in forests principally to create growing space for recently planted young trees by eliminating competing vegetation or to fight forest pests (e.g. spruce budworm). Pesticides are applied by land or by aircraft in areas where the perimeters are clearly marked out (s. 56, 77 and 78). To notify the public, the Pesticides Management Code requires that signs (French, PDF, 160 KB) be posted at the entrance to the treated areas (s. 56, 57 and 81), except when pesticides are applied by aircraft, and a notice must be published in a newspaper or broadcast on radio or television when treating large surfaces. Finally, when pesticides are applied by aircraft, certain specific application distances must be defined (s. 80), a register must be kept (s. 84), and certain information must be sent to the regional office of the Ministère (s. 83 and 85).

Other activities

There are regulations pertaining to other activities that may take place in municipalities, including the sale of pesticides, fumigation and the maintenance of railway and power corridors. For more information, visit the Pesticides Management Code: Highlights.

Application distances requirements

The regulations stipulate mandatory application distances from lakes, watercourses, ditches, wetlands and water withdrawal sites.

The Pesticides Management Code and municipal regulations

Nearly 150 municipalities have adopted a pesticide regulation (French PDF, 26 KB) that specifically concerns green space maintenance work, and approximately 80 have legislation prohibiting the use of pesticides in power corridors.

Section 102 of the Pesticides Act stipulates that the Pesticides Management Code prevails over municipal legislation as follows: “The provisions of the Pesticides Management Code and of the other regulations of this Act prevail over any inconsistent provision of any by-law passed by a municipality or metropolitan community.” As such, the municipalities or metropolitan communities must ensure that these provisions do not contravene the regulations under the Pesticides Act.

In addition, municipal by-laws do not require approval from the Ministère prior to their adoption. It is important to ensure, however, that such regulations do not confuse persons or enterprises that are required to conform.


The issuing of a municipal certificate of compliance and the Environment Quality Act

Since March 2017, a certificate of compliance with municipal bylaws no longer has to be attached to an application for a ministerial authorization. However, the project initiator must notify his municipality of a new project by sending a copy of the project notice to the Ministry.


If someone close to you becomes ill from pesticides?

Guide the person to a well-ventilated area and ask him/her to lie down on his/her side.

Then contact the Centre antipoison du Québec, at 1-800-463-5060 (toll free emergency number, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week) or in the Québec City area (local call) at 418-656-8090, and follow their instructions to the letter. If the person’s condition appears serious, go to the hospital immediately, making sure to bring the label or the name and the registration number of the product in question.

The information provided in this document is in no way meant to replace the full official text of the Pesticides Management Code.


Acting together to protect health, pollinators and the environment

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