Farmers with expiring pesticide applicator or vendor certificates can use their certificates as usual until the end of 2020.
In light of the ongoing pandemic, farmers who need to renew or newly acquire a pesticide applicators licence can only do so via an online course.
For those without high-speed internet and an email address, however, no alternative method exists.
Why it matters: Currently, farmers without email or high-speed internet access have no option to renew their pesticide applicators licence.
Susan Kelner, program coordinator for the Ontario Pesticide Education Program (OPEP), says approximately 80 per cent of all individuals renewing and acquiring an applicator license in standard years opt for in-person group courses. The remaining percentage make use of the interactive online course, which has been offered since 2012.
“There’s probably about 1400 hundred people who need it. That number is going down every day,” says Kelner. We’ve had the course around for a long time and worked a lot of the kinks out of it […] We are able to scale up.”
However, Kelner also says 20 per cent of participants in any given year do not have email addresses (a substantial portion of that number coming from Mennonite and Amish communities). Even if farmers do have an email, though, a lack of high-speed internet access is itself a major barrier.
“Whether you’re in southwestern or northern Ontario, that’s a limiting factor too. High speed internet is required,” she says, adding alternative options such as phone-only courses are being considered.
“We can’t do all of Ontario in the way we would like to and are currently brainstorming for alternatives to online, but we’re not yet sure what that will be.”
Ministry grants certificate extensions
Those with certificates that expired on or after Jan. 1, 2020, and have since been unable to renew, can now use their certificates as usual until the end of this calendar year. However, press releases from the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MOECP) say both applicators and vendors must attach a letter of extension for the amendment to apply.
- Letter for applicators
- Letter for vendors
The OPEP website indicates fees paid for cancelled courses can be transferred to future dates. MOECP adds the ministry “continues to work with the university to assess alternative options to in-person courses and exams.”
Acquiring personal protective equipment
Aside, Kelner says she hopes all applicators will have access to the right personal protective equipment, should they need it. In some areas of the United States, some applicators have had difficulty acquiring the right equipment as masks, gloves, and other supplies continue to be funneled to the health care sector.
“Hopefully here it won’t be an issue with more supplies are being made.”