TORONTO -- The Ontario government says it is planning to significantly curb the use of a controversial agricultural pesticide linked to honeybee deaths.

Agriculture Minister Jeff Leal says the goal is to reduce the number of acres planted with neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seed by 80 per cent by 2017.

The province is also promising to reduce the over-winter honeybee mortality rate to 15 per cent by 2020 and establish a comprehensive Pollinator Health Action Plan. The bee mortality rate was 28.6 per cent in 2012-13.

Leal says that if the plan is approved, the new rules on the use of neonicotinoids will take effect by July 1, 2015.

The governing Liberals say they will seek input from the industry, researchers, organizations and individuals in consultations held over the next two months.

A Health Canada report has suggested that seeds treated with the insecticide contributed to the majority of the bee deaths in Ontario and Quebec in 2012, likely due to exposure of the pesticide-laced dust during planting.