Ministry overview


The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is responsible for protecting and sustainably managing the province’s diverse natural resources to support Ontario’s economic prosperity, environmental sustainability, and quality of life for the people of Ontario.

To achieve its mandate commitments, the ministry oversees and implements five key activities:

  1. Protect the public from natural disasters or hazards, such as floods and wildland fires.
  2. Deliver direct services to the public and industry, such as fishing and hunting licences.
  3. Promote economic growth and job creation by supporting industries like forestry, aggregates and hunting.
  4. Conduct monitoring, research, and planning for the management and use of Ontario's natural resources.
  5. Develop legislation, policies and implement programs to regulate the sustainable use of Ontario's natural resources.

In addition to its key activities, the ministry is exploring opportunities to advance the government’s fiscal commitments to balance the budget in a responsible manner to protect what matters most – critical public services. These commitments include driving further internal efficiencies, such as modernizing business processes and functions, innovative improvements to program efficiency and effectiveness, collaborative partnerships and horizontal streamlining with other ministries.

Ministry contribution to priority outcomes

The ministry is committed to an emphasis on economic development, job creation, responsive customer service and fiscally responsible service delivery. MNRF continues to use evidence-based decision-making throughout its strategic planning and priority-setting. As a result of these efforts, the ministry is improving its ability to more accurately measure its performance in achieving outcomes and value-for-money.

Given the transition of responsibilities for provincial parks, conservation reserves, species at risk and conservation authorities to the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, the ministry is revising its previous strategic plan, Horizons 2020. The revised plan, scheduled for completion in fall 2019, will contain clearly focused long-term goals, strategic and desired outcomes that will guide MNRF and re-focus our efforts to advance the achievement of our mandate and priorities.

The ministry is undertaking several initiatives throughout 2019-20 to advance the government’s priorities on economic development, job creation, responsive customer service and fiscally responsible service delivery. Select ministry initiatives in relation to each priority are described below.

Ministry contribution to government priorities and results

  • Government priority: Advance economic development
    • Ministry priorities
      • Increased business and job creation in Ontario’s natural resources economy.
    • Deliverables
      • Promote economic growth and job creation in Ontario’s forestry, aggregates, and fishery sectors.
      • Promote sustainable outdoor recreation opportunities.
    • Key activities
      • Develop Provincial Forestry Strategy – The ministry is conducting roundtable discussions throughout 2019-20 with representatives of Ontario’s forestry sector to inform MNRF’s development of a new provincial forestry strategy. The new strategy will explore opportunities to promote economic growth and job creation within the province’s forest industry.
      • Far North Act Review – The ministry is currently reviewing the Far North Act with a view to reducing regulations and restrictions on economic development projects in Ontario’s Far North, such as the Ring of Fire, all-season roads and electrical transmission projects.
      • Aggregate Resources Act Reform—The ministry is working closely with other ministries, the aggregate industry, municipal stakeholders, and Indigenous communities to inform policy and regulatory changes under the Aggregate Resources Act to cut red tape and build a sustainable aggregate industry to support development that is beneficial to our communities and promote Ontario’s natural resources economy.
      • Geospatial Data Services – The ministry provides foundational geospatial data that is critical to supporting the province’s Open for Business and Open Government initiatives, and Ontario’s digital economy. This includes the geospatial data required for resource development and economic growth in the mining, water and wind power, engineering and construction industries. The data also underpins the delivery of mobile, cost-effective, location-based services to Ontarians.
      • Science and Research – The ministry is an authoritative source within the Ontario Public Service in providing quality science services to inform resource management decisions that contribute to the economic, environmental and social sustainability of Ontario’s natural resources.
  • Government Priority: Fiscally Responsible Service Delivery
    • Ministry priorities
      • Prudent fiscal management.
      • Service delivery that maintains service level standards.
    • Deliverables
      • Managing from within Treasury Board approved allocations.
      • Promote innovative strategies that enable more efficient and sustainable public service delivery that effectively maintains service level standards.
    • Key activities
      • Budget Management – The ministry demonstrates fiscal responsibility and supports the government’s commitment to balance the budget in a responsible manner to protect what matters most – critical public services. This includes modernizing and transforming our processes and functions to ensure sustainable public services, improving business outcomes, and continuing to sustainably manage Ontario’s natural resources. The ministry has increased rigour and discipline in expenditure management to identify efficiency savings without impacting service levels.
      • Integrated Resource Monitoring – The ministry is completing the development of options for implementing Integrated Monitoring Framework recommendations to modernize and increase the efficiency of monitoring programs that support effective management of forest and wildlife resources.
  • Government Priority: Responsive Customer Service
    • Ministry priorities
      • Deliver services that are flexible, customer focused, and cost-effective.
    • Deliverables
      • Promote service delivery modernization strategies that enable more accessible and convenient service delivery to the people of Ontario.
    • Key activities
      • Fish and Wildlife Licensing – The ministry continues to provide licensing services and contact centre support to two million anglers and hunters. This includes management of the fishing and hunting licensing service, big game draws and the fish and wildlife private licence issuer network.
      • Natural Resources Information Portal – The ministry is implementing an online Natural Resources Information Portal to provide industry and the public with fast, accessible, easy to use, and secure online approval and compliance services. The new portal facilitates a better business environment for industry and enables government to work better for the people of Ontario.
      • Aggregate Resources Act Reform – The ministry is advancing a preliminary analysis of MNRF’s current responsibilities in implementing the Aggregate Resources Act to ensure the act effectively addresses industry concerns and needs. The review’s scope will include aggregate approvals, inspections and enforcement, and information management processes.
      • Outdoor Recreation Opportunities – The ministry promotes fish and wildlife outdoor activities through marketing and communications, including social media, delivery of annual fishing and hunting regulation summaries, outreach events, the Learn to Fish program and Fish On-line.
      • Enforcement Outreach – Conservation officers attend events such as outdoors shows and fishing derbies, as well as fish and game clubs and trapping councils. A key part of conservation officer outreach is educating youth about natural resources and engaging them in outdoor activities. Visits are made to school classrooms, youth clubs and family-focussed outdoor events across the province. Conservation officers typically attend several hundred outreach and education events each year and reach tens of thousands of people with helpful information and education.
      • Fire Smart – The ministry administers the FireSmart program to educate the public and communities about how to prepare for the threat of wildfire and how to improve prevention and mitigation of forest fires. FireSmart makes people and communities more able to understand, plan for and reduce the threat of forest fires.

Ministry programs

The ministry’s key program objectives and initiatives are described below.

1. Forest industry

The Forest Industry Program develops and implements initiatives to promote an economically viable forest industry in Ontario. The program oversees activities related to the allocation, use and pricing of Crown timber and the delivery of business development policies and initiatives affecting Ontario’s forest products sector. The program also includes the development and maintenance of sustainable forest management policy and programs that are critical to supporting a healthy forest industry while protecting forests for future generations.

Key program initiatives in 2019-20 include:

  • Lead a multi-ministry initiative on supporting biomass heat to improve the business and policy environment for the use of biofuels for heat in Ontario. The initiative supports the development of a wood-based biofuels market to support Ontario’s forest industry by providing new markets for Crown forest resources.
  • Defend Ontario in the ongoing softwood lumber dispute with the United States. MNRF works closely with representatives from Ontario’s forest industry, federal and provincial governments to maintain market access in the United States.
  • Consult forest sector stakeholders on the development of Ontario’s new forestry strategy. MNRF is hosting roundtable meetings throughout 2019-20 with forest sector stakeholders to gather their recommendations for inclusion in Ontario’s new forestry strategy. Discussion topics for the new forestry strategy include:
    • increased market diversification, such as the increased use of timber in Ontario’s buildings and infrastructure and increased use of forest biomass to meet community energy needs;
    • providing direct technical support to stakeholders and prospective clients;
    • supporting the competitiveness of Ontario’s forest industry through mechanisms such as increased support for public access road infrastructure in Crown forests and investment support.

2. Natural resources policy

The Natural Resources Policy Program leads the development, guidance and evaluation of evidence-based provincial legislation, regulations, policies and programs. The program ensures that its activities meet the Crown's rights-based obligation to consult with Indigenous peoples and communities, and engages relevant partners, stakeholders, government and non-government interests across the province.

Key program initiatives in 2019-20 include:

  • Develop policies to ensure the sustainable use and management of natural resources across Ontario, such as Crown land, forests, mineral aggregate resources, and fish and wildlife.
  • Implement the Invasive Species Act and priority actions in the Ontario Invasive Species Strategic Plan. These actions include conducting risk assessments to identify priority invasive species for possible regulatory or other management actions and working closely with external partners to mitigate impacts to the outdoor recreation and natural resource sectors.
  • Work with the Niagara Escarpment Commission to implement the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act and the Niagara Escarpment Plan to conserve this important feature and the social and economic benefits it provides.
  • Collaborate with the forest industry, Indigenous communities and governments to advance the ministry’s sustainable forest-based economic development framework. The framework strives to attain the following four outcomes:
  • a public forest wood fibre supply chain that is economically efficient and secure for the long-term;
  • business certainty resulting from a strong social licence supporting a “working forest”;
  • improved business margins resulting from high quality forest resources;
  • Inclusion of Indigenous communities in forest-based businesses.

3. Natural resource science and research

The Science and Research Program provides quality science services to inform natural resource management decisions that contribute to the economic, environmental and social sustainability of Ontario’s natural resources. The program accomplishes this by leading, coordinating, and developing applied research; developing and implementing provincial resource inventory and monitoring programs; and information management, analysis and reporting. MNRF also provides science support including research, expertise and access to data/mapping resources for species at risk to the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP).

Key program initiatives in 2019-20 include:

  • Applied aquatic research and broad-scale monitoring of inland lakes to provide information on the health of Ontario’s freshwater ecosystems and support management of recreational and commercial fisheries.
  • Forestry research and inventory monitoring to support the forest industry and sustainable forest management.
  • Wildlife research and monitoring to inform Ontarians about the health of wild game across the province; delivery of Ontario’s rabies control program; and testing to monitor for the presence of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a fatal disease affecting white-tailed deer, american elk, moose and woodland caribou. Given the recent cases of CWD found in Quebec, additional testing will be conducted throughout 2019-20 in an area east of Ottawa that stretches to the Quebec border.

4. Mapping and geographic information

The Mapping and Geographic Information Program provides geographic information, Crown land surveying and information management services, and ensures geographic data is collected, managed, maintained and open. Geographic data has many uses across the public, private and academic sectors, including research, economic development, commercial decision-making and location-based services. The program also supports the Surveyors Act, Surveys Act, Mining Act and Public Lands Act to ensure Ontario's property framework continues to support a strong economy.

Key program initiatives in 2019-20 include:

  • Provide public access to over 220 geographic datasets. By providing public access to the ministry’s data, MNRF is supporting the Ontario Government’s Open Government and Open Data initiatives as well as Ontario’s digital economy.
  • Provide survey advice to the mining, water power, and construction industries to accurately delineate land boundaries, and to support the ministry’s land claim negotiations.
  • Build external partnerships through Land Information Ontario to collect and improve a range of foundational geospatial data such as land parcels, aerial photography, roads and water, in order to avoid duplication, reduce costs and provide efficient and effective solutions.

5. Forest management

The Forest Management Program enables a healthy and viable forest industry in Ontario by fostering a competitive business environment, jobs and investment opportunities for the province’s forest and wood products sectors. The program accomplishes its mandate through inter-governmental co-operation on national forestry initiatives, Crown forest management planning, renewal and protection from pests; monitoring, auditing, information management and public reporting.

Key program initiatives in 2019-20 include:

  • Prepare and submit a five-year Environmental Assessment Report on the ministry’s forest management practices. The report documents the ministry’s implementation of its requirements under the Environmental Assessment Act approval for forest management for the period from April 1, 2013, to March 31, 2018.
  • Active participation in inter-governmental initiatives such as the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers (CCFM), including involvement in the CCFM’s Forest in Mind Program. Other initiatives include the implementation of Canadian Wildfire Management Strategy, updates to the National Forest Pest Strategy, and participation in ministerial conferences to contribute to strategic priorities for future inter-governmental activities.
  • Cooperation with Quebec to meet commitments laid out in the Ontario-Quebec Memorandum of Understanding Concerning Collaborative Action on Forestry. This includes addressing reputational challenges facing the provinces’ forest sectors, information-sharing on approaches to address trade disputes, sharing of strategies and tools to promote innovation and diversification in forest product markets, discussions on best practices to mitigate and adapt to climate change, and cooperation on recovery efforts for species at risk.

6. Fish and wildlife

The Fish and Wildlife Program manages Ontario’s fish and wildlife resources to ensure the sustainability of wild populations, and the management of fishing, hunting and trapping opportunities for recreation, sport, and commercial purposes. The program accomplishes its mandate through resource management planning, research and monitoring, and the delivery of public services to sustain healthy fish and wildlife populations for Ontario’s future.

Key program initiatives in 2019-20 include:

  • Management of the Great Lakes to ensure long-term sustainable economic and social benefits. This includes developing fisheries management objectives with Fisheries Management Zone Councils, stakeholders and partners; sharing information and engaging the public and local recreational fishing clubs in our Great Lakes fisheries work; and research and monitoring to understand the status of and factors affecting fisheries and the health of the lakes.
  • Provision of fish culture services to maintain, enhance, and create recreational fisheries through stocking and rehabilitating degraded fish stocks.
  • Conduct a Moose Management Review with the support of the Big Game Management Advisory Committee. The review will explore how moose tag quotas are developed, how hunters apply for moose tags and the current moose allocation process.
  • Complete a comprehensive update of the ministry’s Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) plan, as well as potential legislative and regulatory amendments to support CWD prevention and response actions.

7. Regional natural resources operations

The Regional Natural Resources Operations Program is responsible for the localized coordination and delivery of ministry programs and services. Specifically, the program delivers public services through a network of regional, district, and field offices located across the province via an inter-disciplinary workforce. Services that the program delivers include land-use planning, management and allocation of resources through permits, licences and approvals in the areas of forests, fisheries, wildlife, Crown lands (including dams), waters, wetlands, aggregates and the petroleum sector.

Key program initiatives in 2019-20 include:

  • Issue and maintain Sustainable Forest Licences to enable the harvest and use of forest resources within a management unit and confer responsibility for forest management activities on the forest manager.
  • Implement the ministry’s new Natural Resources Information Portal. The new portal enables red tape reduction, more effective online public engagement, faster service delivery and enhanced customer service by replacing paper-based processes with streamlined digital processes. The portal will be the central data repository to store submitted files which will enable more efficient and cost-effective approval processes for aggregates, Crown land use/activities, wildlife approvals and compliance services.
  • Advance economic development through the localized operational delivery of the ministry’s forestry sector strategy, wildlife review, and modernization of the aggregates program.
  • Working with qualified dam owners to streamline approvals for low-risk repairs to dams to reduce burden to the water power industry.

8. Natural resource enforcement

The Natural Resources Enforcement Program delivers professional enforcement services and activities to ensure compliance with natural resource legislation for the protection of Ontario's natural resources and public safety. The program accomplishes its mandate through public engagement, investigations, focused deterrence activities, responses to public complaints and prosecution of natural resource offenders. The program also contributes to the development and renewal of natural resource management policy and legislation.

Key program initiatives in 2019-20 include:

  • Promoting awareness of unsafe hunting practices and their contributing factors through public communication and outreach to hunters and the public.
  • Enforcing Ontario’s natural resources management laws with a focus on moose and aquatic invasive species. Compliance actions related to moose include increased public and stakeholder awareness of harvest rules and identification of moose, monitoring to address non-compliance, and investigating reported moose harvest violations. Enforcement actions related to aquatic invasive species include increasing awareness of rules regulating invasive species through focused outreach, education and promotion, and targeted compliance inspections and monitoring to prevent the introduction or spread of invasive species in specific pathways.
  • Working with Indigenous communities through the Collaborative Compliance Initiative to resolve natural resource offences involving Indigenous persons through community-based restorative justice. This initiative involves working with Indigenous communities on a case-by-case basis to determine if restorative justice is appropriate based on specific eligibility criteria.

9. Far North

The Far North Program is responsible for the delivery of the Far North Act within a specific geographic area. The program implements a joint community-based land use planning process with Far North First Nations. It also supports the review and approval of economic development opportunities, including all-season roads, transmission corridors and mining development including in the Ring of Fire region.

Key program initiatives in 2019-20 include:

  • Continue to implement a joint community-based land use planning process with Far North First Nations. MNRF will focus on supporting joint planning with First Nations in advanced planning stages.
  • Lead the First Nation and stakeholder engagement related to the proposed changes to the Far North Act.
  • Lead and coordinate MNRF’s strategic inter-ministry role in the Ring of Fire; support the completion of projects and initiatives in the Far North, including Watay, the Ring of Fire and all-season road proposals; and provide expert advice and input to MNRF and OPS policy initiatives that impact the Far North.

10. Public safety & hazard emergency response

The Public Safety and Natural Hazard Emergency Response Program provides specialized wildland fire, emergency management and aviation services to protect people and economic values from the following seven natural hazards: wildland fires, floods, drought/low water, dam failure, petroleum resources emergencies, erosion, soil and bedrock instability. The program aims to prevent the loss of human life and injury, and to prevent and mitigate other losses, economic and social disruption. The program also delivers frontline operations for Wildland Fire Management and provides support to the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management and other ministries in the delivery of their emergency response responsibilities in Ontario. This includes the evacuation of residents in communities affected by flood and fire and smoke risks.

Key program initiatives in 2019-20 include:

  • Work with municipalities and communities to advance FireSmart programs through transfer payment support for prevention and mitigation initiatives.
  • Planning for, monitoring and responding to wildland fires based on the Wildland Fire Strategy for Ontario and supporting mutual aid partners across Canada and the US.
  • Promote understanding of the ecological role of fire and use fire to benefit resource management.
  • Emergency management for natural hazards.
  • Providing specialized aviation services in support of MNRF’s Natural Hazard Emergency Response, and Natural Resource Management programs.

11. Corporate management

The Corporate Management team leads the ministry’s strategic business planning which is integral to effective and efficient ministry operations. Corporate management functions include fiscal controllership and financial governance; sustainable infrastructure and facility management; strategic human resources planning and management; supply chain management; and the administration of the Freedom of Information and Privacy Protection Act.

Key program initiatives in 2019-20 include:

  • Implement the recommendations from the Freedom of Information (FOI) Review to improve business processes, make it easier for program areas to comply with the FOI request process to improve response rates, and provide Ontarians with better access to information.
  • Advance the ministry’s modernization efforts through the implementation of hiring controls, organizational changes and voluntary exit incentive programs to support the government’s fiscal commitments and better align workforce capacity with priority outcomes.
  • Play a critical role in establishing and supporting the implementation of financial processes and centralized initiatives, such as the new centralized procurement initiative and ongoing horizontal streamlining initiatives across the Ontario Public Service.

Highlights of 2018-19 results

In 2018-19, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry delivered on its mandated key activities as exemplified through the following achievements:

  • The ministry is supporting Ontario’s forest industry through targeted funding to help businesses access new export markets and increase domestic consumption of Ontario forest products. Among several initiatives, the ministry:
    • invested $6.39 million in funding for nine mills to upgrade their equipment to increase productivity, log recovery, domestic and export sales, and reduce their energy costs. The nine mills support 1,105 direct jobs and an estimated 650 indirect jobs in rural communities across northern Ontario;
    • organized several in-market activities annually to promote export sales by enabling Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) to access international trade events and participate in trade missions by sharing the cost. MNRF’s trade promotion support also allows for Ontario’s SMEs to leverage federal funding through Natural Resources Canada’s Expanding Markets Opportunity Program for export marketing.
  • Protected Ontarians from natural hazards by responding to wildland fires and flooding, with collaborative support from other jurisdictions and agencies. For example, in 2018 Ontario experienced a Level 5 fire escalation - the highest forest fire risk level for forest fire and resource availability - for the first time in over 20 years.
  • In 2018, over 1,325 fires were recorded with 276,356 hectares burned, compared to the 776 fires and 111,955 hectares burned in 2017. The highest-profile fire of 2018 was known as ‘Parry Sound 33’ which caused significant social and economic disruption in the area. The fire was 11,362 hectares in size and located near Henvey Inlet First Nation and the communities of Key River and Town of Killarney.
  • Several other notable fires that required suppression included:
    • North Bay 69, which was 221 hectares in size and located two kilometres southwest of the Town of Temagami.
    • North Bay 72, which was 27,285 hectares in size and located 33 kilometres west of Temiskaming Shores.
    • Kenora 071 at 10,272 hectares in size, located 23 kilometres north of Wabaseemoong, and Nipigon 30, near Nibinamik First Nation, which was the province’s largest fire of 2018 at 32,850 hectares.
  • On September 13, 2018, the Government of Canada, the Government of Ontario and the seven Williams Treaties First Nations announced that they had reached a negotiated settlement agreement and that the Alderville litigation had been discontinued. The seven First Nations are: Alderville First Nation, Beausoleil First Nation, Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation, Chippewas of Rama First Nation, Curve Lake First Nation, Hiawatha First Nation and Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.
  • The ministry signed three resource revenue sharing agreements in mining and forestry with First Nations organizations representing 31 communities in Northern Ontario: Grand Council Treaty #3, Wabun Tribal Council, and Mushkegowuk Council. The agreements cover mining tax and royalties and forestry stumpage revenues and commit Ontario to sharing with First Nations proximate to resource development:
    • 45 per cent of forestry stumpage revenues from eligible forest management units;
    • 40 per cent of the annual mining tax and royalties from active mines identified in the agreements;
    • 45 per cent from future mines that are identified for sharing during the life of the agreements.
  • On April 30, 2018, MNRF and the Métis Nation of Ontario signed a historic Framework Agreement on Métis Harvesting that recognizes Métis harvesting rights in Ontario, consistent with the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Powley.
  • On November 26, 2018, the ministry launched a new Fish and Wildlife Licensing Service to enable more accessible and convenient purchase of the Ministry’s hunting and fishing licences.
  • During the winter of 2019, the ministry partnered with the United States National Park Service to successfully relocate 11 wolves from Ontario to Isle Royale National Park in Michigan. This relocation provided a collaborative inter-jurisdictional research opportunity to study relationships between species of wildlife and their natural environment.
  • The ministry’s Enforcement Branch successfully completed eight restorative justice cases in 2018-19 as part of its new Collaborative Compliance Initiative with Indigenous communities.
  • In 2018-19, the ministry’s Mapping and Geographic Information Program:
    • maintained key foundation geospatial datasets including over 260,000 kilometres of roads and over 63,000 square kilometres of water;
    • released over 30,000 square kilometres of elevation data;
    • partnered with all levels of government, First Nations, the private sector and other organizations to acquire aerial photography in the Greater Toronto area and south-central Ontario;
    • maintained more than 60,000 official geographic names to aid navigation and emergency response across Ontario.
  • The ministry has also increased its monitoring of Chronic Wasting Disease due to recent cases in Quebec. In addition to regular annual surveillance, the ministry carried out additional testing. Chronic wasting disease has never been detected in any Ontario wildlife.
  • The ministry continues to be a recognized leader in rabies surveillance and control. Since Ontario’s recent rabies outbreak began in December 2015, there have been 459 cases of raccoon strain rabies and 21 cases of fox strain rabies confirmed in southern Ontario. In response, over four million oral rabies vaccine baits, which help immunize most raccoons, skunks and foxes that eat them, have been distributed. The ministry’s efforts have helped reduce the number of annual rabies cases by approximately 50 percent each year since 2016.
  • In support of the government’s commitment to fiscal responsibility and reducing the size of the deficit, MNRF implemented a number of measures in 2018-19 to achieve savings. Actions taken by the ministry to find efficiencies and reduce spending throughout the fiscal resulted in approximately $28 million in expense savings as well as $30.1 million in capital asset savings. MNRF will continue to modernize and transform its processes and functions to ensure sustainable public services are available in the future.

For more information on these and other achievements, refer to Appendix 1—the 2018-19 Annual Report.

Ministry organization chart

  • Minister - Natural Resources and Forestry
    • Parliamentary Assistant
    • Deputy Minister
      • Legal Services Branch
      • Communications Services Branch
      • Niagara Escarpment Commission
      • Executive Assistant
      • Corporate Management and Information Division
        • Mapping and Information Resources Branch
        • Strategic Human Resources Business Branch
        • Strategic Management and Corporate Services Branch
      • Forest Industry Division
        • Business Development Branch
        • Forest Tenure and Economics Branch
        • Operations Branch
      • Policy Division
        • Crown Forests and Lands Policy Branch
        • Natural Resources Conservation Policy Branch
        • Species Conservation Policy Branch
        • Strategic and Indigenous Policy Branch
      • Provincial Services Division
        • Aviation, Forest Fire and Emergency Services Branch
        • Enforcement Branch
        • Fish and Wildlife Services Branch
        • Science and Research Branch
      • Regional Operations Division
        • Far North Branch
        • Integration Branch
        • Northeast Region
        • Northwest Region
        • Southern Region
      • Land and Resources Cluster
        • Business Solutions Branch
        • Cluster Operations Branch
        • Cluster Management Branch

Download printer-friendly organizational chart

Agencies, boards and commissions (ABCs)

Classified agencies

Algonquin Forestry Authority

  • responsible for forest management, including timber harvesting, in Algonquin Park. The authority sorts, sells and delivers harvested logs to regional mills. It also may advise on, undertake and carry out forestry, land-management and other programs and projects as the minister may authorize.

Big Game Management Advisory Committee

  • replaces the Ontario Moose-Bear Allocation Advisory Committee as of April 2019. The new committee provides advice to the minister respecting policy and programs related to the management of species of big game in Ontario, and reviews and recommends changes to the allocation of harvesting opportunities for big game.

Fish and Wildlife Heritage Commission

  • established under the Heritage Hunting and Fishing Act, the Fish and Wildlife Heritage Commission makes recommendations to the minister on ways to encourage people to value our fish and wildlife resources, promote more participation in conservation and other programs, and to search out new fish- and wildlife-related opportunities.

Nawiinginokiima Forest Management Corporation

  • responsible for sustainable forest management, and the marketing and selling of wood supplies to both existing forest industry customers and new entrants on five forest management units: the Big Pic, the Nagagami, the White River, the Black River and the Pic River Ojibway Forests.

Niagara Escarpment Commission

  • administers the Niagara Escarpment Plan through promoting the objectives of the plan; processing and making decisions on development permit applications; and making recommendations on plan amendments.

Ontario Geographic Names Board

  • develops policy and principles for naming geographic features and unincorporated places in Ontario. The Board reviews official geographic feature name submissions on behalf of the minister and enters approved submissions and suitable place name submissions into the official record.

Ontario Moose-Bear Allocation Advisory Committee

  • replaced by the Big Game Management Advisory Committee in April 2019. The committee advised the minister on the allocation of moose among tourist outfitters and on the issues arising from the allocation of black bear management areas of tourist operators.

Rabies Advisory Committee

  • advises on the scientific steps necessary for developing a successful rabies research and response program, which includes developing suitable vaccines and systems for vaccinating wild animal populations.

Unclassified agencies

Council of the Association of Ontario Land Surveyors

  • regulates the practice of professional land surveying and governs the profession in accordance with the Surveyors Act, its regulations and bylaws.

Council of the Ontario Professional Foresters Association

  • regulates the practice of forestry and governs its members in accordance with the Professional Foresters Act, its regulations and by-laws. The governing council manages, administers and oversees the functioning of the association.

Lake of the Woods Control Board

  • regulates the water levels in the Lake of the Woods, Lac Seul and in the Winnipeg and English Rivers between the lake outlets and their confluence.

Ottawa River Regulation Planning Board

  • a partnership among Canada, Quebec and Ontario to formulate and review policies that will lead to integrated management of the reservoirs in the Ottawa River basin.


A classified agency, though established by the government, is not considered part of the ministry. The government appoints the majority of its members, assigns responsibility to perform a public function, and holds the agency to account.

An unclassified agency is excluded from the financial and administrative requirements of the Management Board of Cabinet. The government makes at least one appointment to each non-classified agency board.

Table 1: Expenditure and revenue data for agencies, boards and commissions

Name2019-20 Estimates: Expenditure $2019-20 Estimates: Revenue $2018-19 Interim actuals: Expenditure $2018-19 Interim actuals: Revenue $2017-18 Actuals: Expenditure $2017-18 Actuals: Revenue $
Algonquin Forestry Authority29,990,00030,400,00024,966,00026,868,00024,905,00025,090,000
Big Game Management Advisory Committee60,0000N/AN/AN/AN/A
Council of the Association of Ontario Land Surveyors30,000033,692024,6000
Council of the Ontario Professional Foresters Association28,00009,761021,0000
Fish and Wildlife Heritage Commission17,000021,105035,2240
Lake of the Woods Control Board1,10001,00001,2130
Nawiinginokiima Forest Management Corporation3,145,9003,960,0002,717,0943,838,4424,110,5848,012,205
Niagara Escarpment Commission2,410,10002,404,14202,473,1300
Ontario Geographic Names Board7,00006,60906,1310
Ontario Moose-Bear Allocation Advisory Committee006,906011,5760
Ottawa River Regulation Planning Board59,731N/A56,670N/A51,263N/A
Rabies Advisory Committee700054107720

Detailed financial information

Ministry planned expenditures 2019-20 ($M)

  • Operating - $640.1
  • Capital - $32.1
  • Total - $672.3

Allocation of base spending depicting 2019-20 expenditures by vote/item, sub-item

Regional Operations


Forest Industry


Public Safety and Emergency Response


Fish and Wildlife Special Purpose Account


Provincial Services, Science and Research


Policy and Planning


Mapping and Geographic Information


Ministry Administration


Land and Resources Information Technology Cluster


Table 2: 2019-20 planned operating expenditures by vote/item, sub-item

Activity nameinistry planned
expenditures ($M)
Regional Operations$138.1
Forest Industry$176.1
Public Safety and Emergency Response$100.6
Fish and Wildlife Special Purpose Account$71.8
Provincial Services, Science and Research$48.3
Policy and Planning$28.6
Mapping and Geographic Information$7.9
Ministry Administration$37.9
Land and Resources Information Technology Cluster (spends $81.0 million and recovers $50.3 million
for a net balance of $30.7)
Total Planned Expenditures by Activity$640.1

Table 3: Combined operating and capital summary by vote

Votes/ProgramsEstimates 2019-20 $Changes from 2018-19 Estimates $Change %Estimates 2018-19 $footnote *Interim Actuals 2018-19 $footnote *Actuals 2017-18 $footnote *
Operating expense      
Ministry Administration37,815,400(534,300)(1.4)38,349,70045,337,55045,939,344
Natural Resource Management307,025,0004,014,9001.3303,010,100308,749,549327,256,073
Public Protection100,596,000415,3000.4100,180,700239,706,000149,313,597
Land and Resources Information & Information Technology Cluster30,709,5001,734,5006.028,975,00030,307,80029,124,211
Total operating expense to be voted476,145,900 5,630,400 1.2 470,515,500 624,100,899 551,633,225
Statutory Appropriations5,167,014----5,167,014149,30122,418,890
Ministry Total Operating Expense481,312,9145,630,4001.2475,682,514624,250,200574,052,115
Operating Expense Adjustment - Fish & Wildlife Special Purpose Account71,820,000(4,860,000)(6.3)76,680,00076,680,00076,585,967
Operating Expense Adjustment - Cap and Trade Wind Down Account Reclassification--(26,130,000)(100.0)26,130,0006,994,8005,921,953
Consolidation Adjustment - Algonquin Forest Authority24,205,0001,040,4004.523,164,60024,138,80021,407,383
Consolidation Adjustment - Forest Renewal Trust62,798,000(3,998,900)(6.0)66,796,90067,398,00052,436,511
Operating Expense Adjustment - Section 15 Recoveries---- ----8,271,046
Total including consolidation & other adjustments640,135,914 (28,318,100)(4.2)668,454,014 799,461,800 738,674,975
Operating assets      
Ministry Administration1,000----1,000----
Natural Resource Management2,883,000172,7006.42,710,3004,228,1003,995,573
Public Protection40,8004,30011.836,50043,50039,968
Land and Resources Information & Information Technology Cluster1,0001,000--------
Total operating assets to be voted2,925,800 178,000 6.5 2,747,800 4,271,600 4,035,541
Statutory Appropriations      
Ministry total operating assets 2,925,800 178,000 6.5 2,747,800 4,271,600 4,035,541
Capital expense      
Natural Resource Management12,178,500(22,692,900)(65.1)34,871,40017,000,43122,116,049
Public Protection1,904,200(4,094,300)(68.3)5,998,5003,016,3916,636,473
Total capital expense to be voted14,082,700 (26,787,200)(65.5)


40,869,900 20,016,822 28,752,522
Statutory Appropriations17,823,30029,9000.217,793,40014,293,37813,322,832
Ministry total capital expense 31,906,000 (26,757,300)(45.6)58,663,300 34,310,200 42,075,354
Capital Expense Adjustment - Cap and Trade Wind Down Account Reclassification--(521,000)(100.0)521,000----
Consolidation Adjustment - Algonquin Forest Authority210,00084,10066.8125,900208,900189,766
Total including consolidation & other adjustments32,116,000 (27,194,200)(45.9)59,310,200 34,519,100 42,265,120
Capital assets      
Natural Resources Management27,835,1003,453,80014.224,381,30018,389,70418,529,156
Public Protection21,100,500(6,846,200)(24.5)27,946,70013,763,99610,652,547
Total capital assets to be voted48,935,600 (3,392,400)(6.5)52,328,000 32,153,700 29,181,703
Statutory Appropriations      
Ministry total capital assets48,935,600 (3,392,400)(6.5)52,328,000 32,153,700 29,181,703
Ministry total operating and capital including consolidation and other adjustments (not including assets)672,251,914(55,512,300)(7.6)727,764,214833,980,900780,940,095

Table 4: Historic trend analysis

Historic trend analysis dataActuals
2016-17 $
2017-18 $
2018-19 $footnote *
2019-20 $
Ministry total operating and capital including consolidation and other adjustments (not including assets)729,475,082780,940,095727,764,214672,251,914

The overall decrease in the ministry’s budget in 2019-20 demonstrates fiscal responsibility and supports the government plan to reduce the size of the deficit. Our plan identifies savings opportunities across the ministry to modernize and transform our processes and functions to protect what matters most—critical public services.

Other variances between the Actuals and the Budget in any given year can be attributed to funding received during a fiscal year including support to manage a busy forest fire season.

Appendix: 2018-19 Annual report

2018-19 Results

Key activity 1: Protect the public from natural disasters or occurrences

  • Provided foundational geospatial data, mapping tools and technical infrastructure to support the ministry’s response in protecting the public from natural disasters, including forest fires and floods.
  • Implemented a new early warning notification system for flooding on the Great Lakes, and the Surface Water Monitoring Centre issued 106 flood and drought messages.
  • Supported training and technology transfer for about 150 professionals on water monitoring networks, floodplain mapping, flood forecasting and warning, and data management.
  • Supported natural hazard management and repairs to flood and erosion control structures by providing $7.448 million in grant funding to the 36 conservation authorities (CAs), plus $4.418 million in capital funding to 19 CAs for 65 water and erosion control infrastructure projects.
  • Assisted the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management (OFMEM) with the evacuation of the community of Kashechewan in April 2018. MNRF evacuated approximately 1,300 people to Kapuskasing, Thunder Bay, Timmins, Cochrane and Hearst, and later returned community members home. MNRF also assisted with emergency evacuations for the community of Fort Albany in the Far North. MNRF provided emergency response support to OFMEM when areas in southern and southeastern Ontario experienced flooding in spring of 2018.
  • Instituted five Restricted Fire Zones, and a total of five Emergency Area Orders due to the severity of the 2018 wildland fire season. The ministry conducted several evacuations, including populated locations in and around an area stretching from North Bay to Temiskaming, as well as Sudbury, Parry Sound, Temagami, Cat Lake, Red Lake, and Summer Beaver. In total, 1,325 fires were recorded in 2018 with 276,356 hectares burned, compared to 2017 which saw 776 fires and 111,955 hectares burned.
  • Imported over 925 fire-fighting personnel from other jurisdictions for emergency wildland fire assistance. Throughout the 2018 fire season, Ontario relied heavily on the support of personnel from Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Saskatchewan, in addition to staff from Parks Canada. Internationally, fire personnel came from the United States (Minnesota and Wisconsin), and Mexico. Air tanker aircraft from the Northwest Territories, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebec and Minnesota also assisted with wildfire suppression. Relative to past forest fire seasons, Ontario’s reliance on external support during the 2018 fire season was significantly higher.
  • Prior to the significant fire escalation in Ontario, MNRF also provided 508 specialized fire personnel, equipment and CL-415 water bomber aircraft resources for wildland fire suppression through the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center mutual aid agreements to other Canadian provinces.

Key activity 2: Deliver direct services to the public and industry

  • Provided fishing and hunting opportunities to approximately two million Outdoors Card holders which generated over $60 million in licence sales.
  • Provided approximately 8.0 million fish for stocking purposes and population re-habilitation through the Fish and Wildlife Program’s fish culture stations.
  • Launched a new Fish and Wildlife Licensing Service that makes it easier to buy hunting and fishing licences.
  • Considered 56 name proposals resulting in six name changes and ten new names. In addition, 40 Ontario commemorative names were included in Canada’s Commemorative Map that memorializes Canada’s participation in armed conflicts and Canadians that served at home and abroad.
  • Collected rent from 11,000 tenants who occupy Crown land for a range of purposes, including those related to aggregates, petroleum, land rentals/sales and renewable energy. This generated $135 million in revenue.
  • Provided 1,496 Crown Patents to clients requesting them from April 1, 2018, to March 31, 2019.
  • Trained approximately 20,000 new hunters through the Ontario Hunter Education program generating over $500,000 in revenue directed to the Fish and Wildlife Special Purpose Account.
  • Issued more than 7,000 trapping licences and trained more than 800 new trappers generating over a $250,000 in revenue directed to the Fish and Wildlife Special Purpose Account.

Key activity 3: Promote economic growth and job creation

  • Invested $6.39 million in funding for nine mills to upgrade their equipment to increase productivity, log recovery, domestic and export sales, and reduce their energy costs. The nine mills support 1,105 direct jobs and an estimated 650 indirect jobs in rural communities across northern Ontario.
  • Issued two Minister’s Orders to allow developments important for a sustainable economy, including upgrades to a road to support the provincial commitment to provide all-season access to northern communities, and an aggregate pit to support infrastructure in a First Nation community.

Key activity 4: Conduct monitoring, research, and planning

  • Monitored the health of Ontario’s inland lakes using the Ministry’s broad-scale monitoring program to describe the status and trend of important species to recreational, commercial and subsistence fisheries. The program started its third five-year cycle in 2018-19 with the completion of monitoring on 149 lakes and rivers and supporting Fisheries Management Zone planning in Zones 6, 10, 11 and 15.
  • Conducted focused aquatic monitoring on a number of significant inland fisheries, including Lake of the Woods, Lake Nipissing, Lake Nipigon, Rainy River and the Tri-Lakes. In addition to status and trend data, water quality and fish contamination was evaluated on these water bodies collaboratively with the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP).
  • Completed the Lake Ontario lake-wide prey fish assessment by the joint MNRF/New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Lake Ontario Committee (to inform management decisions related to maintaining and enhancing the Lake Ontario salmon and trout fishery). The lake-wide prey fish survey provides critical information on the status of prey fish that directly informs fish stocking levels to meet two key objectives: maintain the chinook salmon fishery and maintain the predator/prey balance in the lake.
  • Completed the Lake St. Clair International Aerial Creel Survey to assess the recreational catch and effort that occurs on Lake St Clair. This was the first lake-wide coordinated effort to survey recreational fishing on both sides of the Canada/U.S. border. The purpose of the study was to estimate the catch and harvest for all fish species, measure angler effort and success, monitor age and length composition of fish species and gain knowledge about angler demographics.
  • Identified 600,000 hectares of forest defoliated by jack pine budworm in Northwestern Ontario through forest health monitoring. MNRF launched a pest management plan which will commence in the spring of 2019 to control the infestation. The plan incorporates multiple strategies including the use of an organic insecticide. An aerial spray program will commence in 2019-20 to mitigate the outbreak and its potential impacts on forests and wood supply in Red Lake, Dryden and Kenora.
  • Continued moose aerial inventories throughout 2018-2019 with the completion of aerial surveys of twelve wildlife management units. The surveys are conducted annually on a rotational basis to estimate the abundance and demographics of the moose population. The information is used to inform resident moose tag quotas.
  • Continued with forest health research and monitoring across Ontario, targeting jack pine budworm, spruce budworm and forest tent caterpillar. Invasive species detection and monitoring efforts were undertaken for walnut twig beetle (not currently present in Ontario), emerald ash borer, beech bark disease and gypsy moth. Collaborative monitoring and research is ongoing with the Canadian Food inspection Agency, Canadian Forestry Service and other partners.
  • Working with the Canadian Food inspection Agency, Canadian Forestry Service, Quebec Wood Export Bureau, Quebec Forest Industry Council, and the Quebec Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks to undertake research to test and document the effects of heat treatments in reducing the risk of potential invasive insect like the emerald ash borer and birch bronze borer in exported lumber.
  • Under the Far North Act, communities that have completed plans – Pikangikum, Cat Lake, Slate Falls, Pauingassi and Little Grand Rapids – are now working with the ministry on implementation. Implementation activities include the pursuit of sustainable commercial forestry by Pikangikum and Cat Lake-Slate Falls. Pauingassi and Little Grand Rapids First Nations have advanced protected area planning for the dedicated protected areas in each planning area through the development of draft interim management statements, including work associated with advancing the Pimachiowin-Aki UNESCO world heritage site planning discussions.
  • Made significant progress towards completing a draft community-based land use plan with six communities: Marten Falls, Eabametoong and Mishkeegogamang, Webequie, McDowell Lake and Constance Lake. As part of this progress, notices were placed on the Mining Lands Administration System advising potential mining claim registrants of areas being considered for designation as Dedicated Protected Areas. Weenusk First Nation also moved forward towards preparing a draft plan by collecting Indigenous traditional knowledge and incorporating Ontario science.

Key activity 5: Develop legislation, policies and implement programs

  • Worked with deer hunters to conduct additional comprehensive CWD monitoring in Wildlife Management Unit 65 in response to the detection of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) on a game farm in Quebec. The ministry also conducted comprehensive CWD monitoring in southwestern Ontario as previously planned.
  • Worked with the United States National Park Service to successfully relocate 11 wolves from populations in the Wawa area to Isle Royale National Park in Michigan. This translocation effort supports an effort to re-establish wolves on Isle Royale and provides opportunities to study relationships between species of wildlife and their natural environment.
  • Updated fees and royalties under the Aggregate Resources Act that came into effect from a regulation made in 2017. These changes were made to create a more level playing field for aggregate producers across Ontario and to help address municipal road infrastructure costs resulting from aggregate operations.
  • Made changes to regulations under the Oil, Gas and Salt Resources Act to regulate the compressed air energy storage in salt caverns framework starting in October of 2018. This regulation will provide clearer oversight of compressed air energy storage and enhanced community engagement on proposed projects.
  • Developed a Seed Transfer Policy through science collaboration between MNRF and Natural Resources Canada. Technical input was received from the forest industry, seed associations and nurseries.
  • Launched a new initiative that allows veterans and active members of the Canadian Armed Forces who reside in Ontario to fish for free using specific identification cards issued by the Department of National Defence and Veterans Affairs Canada.
  • Increased the number of certified humane traps that are regulated for use by Ontario trappers to support the fur industry as part of the implementation of the Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards.
  • Delivered legislated tax incentive programs and stewardship granting programs to landowners, stakeholders and partners including Indigenous organizations and individuals.
  • Continued to engage key dam industry stakeholders through its Dam Owners Advisory Committee, which provides a forum for regular dialogue between government and industry, and for industry to provide advice to government on policy and programs related to dams.
  • Led projects within the OPS, the broader public service and private sector to acquire aerial photography with cost savings of more than 75 percent for participants. It also ensured the data is accessible.
  • Continued to oversee the work of the Forestry Futures Committee in delivering on the objectives of the Forestry Futures Trust. Committee members administered programs with a focus on supporting silviculture projects, forest genetics management, independent forest audits, tenure modernization and an enhanced forest inventory program.
  • Supported the activities of the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers, including participation in national and international events to share information on the sustainable management of Ontario's forests. Ontario was a key contributor to the renewal of Canada’s forest strategy known as “A Vision for Canada’s Forests”.
  • Continued to engage forest industry stakeholders through the Forest Information and Data Advisory Group, which provides a forum for regular dialogue between government and industry on the exchange of information in support of forest management planning and reporting.
  • Played a leadership role on inter-jurisdictional policy and technical committees, including the Canadian Dam Association, Canadian Council of Geomatics and the Canadian Land Directors Association. Participation has advanced evidence-based policy development through information-sharing and building relationships with regulators across Canada.
  • Continued to support the Association of Ontario Land Surveyors, the regulator for the land survey industry, in accordance with the Surveyors Act, by maintaining a presence at council to serve and protect the public interest and contribute to regulatory change.
Ministry interim actual expenditures ($M) 2018-19 footnote **
  • Operating - $799.5
  • Capital - $34.5
  • Staff Strength (as of March 31, 2019)footnote *** - 2,893

For additional financial information, see:

Who to call

For questions or comments, please contact:

Office of the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry
Whitney Block, Room 6630
99 Wellesley Street West
Toronto, Ontario
M7A 1W3

Phone: 416-314-2301

Further information about the ministry and its programs can be found on the ministry's website.