The federal government is imposing restrictions on the use of neonicitinoid pesticides, especially for orchards and strawberry fields.
But it is allowing the continued use of two of the neonicitinoids as seed treatments for corn, oilseeds and grains.
The restrictions fall far short of what environmentalists want.
The measures are for clothianidin and thiamethoxam which have been used both as an insect-killing spray in orchards and on strawberries and as a coating on seeds.
More restrictions are on the way for other uses such as on berries and legumes.
"Scientific evidence shows that with the proposed restrictions applied, the use of clothianidin and thiamethoxam does not present an unacceptable risk to bees," said Margherita Conti, an official with Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency.
Beatrice Olivastri, CEO of Friends of the Earth Canada, said pressure from pesticide manufacturers and users led to the government's "gutless" and "inadequate" response.
"That's not addressing the long-term issues we have with these pesticides building up in the soil, building up in the wildflowers, in the vegetation," she told CBC News. "It's like a half-pregnant approach. It's impossible, what they're doing, in terms of having a positive impact."
A coalition of environmental and health groups including Équiterre, the David Suzuki Foundation, Environmental Defence, the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) and the Canadian Environmental Law Association issued a news release urging Canada to follow the lead of other countries with stronger measures against neonicotinoids, such as Italy’s ban.
But farmers and pesticide companies have argued that when neonicitinoids are used with care, bee colonies are able to survive.