Ministry overview

Ministry’s vision

Ontarians benefit from the health and wealth of the province’s natural resources, today and in the future.

Ministry’s mission

To sustainably manage and promote the responsible use of our natural resources.


The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) 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 and responsible use and management of Ontario’s natural resources and Crown Lands.

In addition to its key activities, the ministry is exploring opportunities to advance the government’s fiscal commitments to put Ontario on a sound financial footing so we can protect against future threats like COVID‑19 and create opportunities for the people of Ontario to prosper. 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.

COVID‑19 Response

The ministry continues to work closely with our stakeholders to protect jobs and support Northern and rural communities through the economic recovery of various sectors in Ontario directly affected by COVID‑19.

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 has revised its strategic plan to contain clearly focused long-term goals, and desired and strategic 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 2020-21 to advance the government’s priorities. 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 – On December 4, 2019, Ontario released a draft forest sector strategy that was posted to the Environmental Registry of Ontario (ERO) for public comment until February 5, 2020.
      • The draft forest sector strategy was developed through discussions at seven roundtable sessions with the forestry industry, municipalities and First Nations communities. The strategy aligns with the government’s priorities to reduce red tape, create jobs, and promote economic growth and prosperity across the province, while ensuring forests continue to be managed sustainably for future generations. The strategy also works in conjunction with the government’s draft Made-In-Ontario Environment Plan and Ontario’s Housing Supply Action Plan to help the province achieve its objectives to grow the forest sector, creating opportunities for the many people who depend on it.
      • Six regional engagement/consultation sessions were held with municipalities and nine sessions with Indigenous communities and groups to share information about the draft strategy and gather feedback that will be considered in finalizing the strategy.
    • Launch of the Forest Sector Investment and Innovation Program – The former Forestry Growth Fund has been redesigned and launched as the Forest Sector Investment and Innovation Program as a result of a broad review of provincial business support programs across several ministries. The Forest Sector Investment and Innovation Program will provide up to $10 million per year for strategic investments in the forestry sector that improve productivity and innovation, enhance competitiveness, support new market access and strengthen supply chains and regional economies.
    • Forest Policy Framework – The ministry is:
      • streamlining forest management planning requirements
      • proposing an amendment to the Crown Forest Sustainability Act to enable a long-term approach for forest operations in addressing species at risk
      • streamlining the delivery of the Independent Forest Audit program
      • developing strategic direction for managing forest pests in Ontario
      • revising Forest Management Guide for Conserving Biodiversity at the Stand and Site Scale
      • implementing an afforestation guide as a companion to the Southern Ontario Silviculture Guide
    • Land Use Planning – The ministry is supporting the government’s efforts to review land use planning policies and direct development to areas where it is needed to support economic growth, while continuing to protect the long-term sustainability of Ontario’s natural areas.
    • Far North Act Review – The ministry is working closely with other ministries, to seek input from Far North First Nations, Tribal Councils and Nishnawbe-Aski Nation (NAN), on refocussing the Far North Act to support economic development opportunities such as the Ring of Fire, all-season roads and electrical transmission projects by amending elements that could hinder economic development.
    • 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 better manage aggregate resources in Ontario, while maintaining our commitment to limit impacts to our communities and the environment.
    • 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 and land tenure 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 of science services that contribute to the economic, environmental and social sustainability of Ontario’s natural resources. The ministry provides an inventory of available resources, such as wood supply, and support to evidence-based decision-making and policy development in emerging industry areas such as Ring of Fire resource access development.
    • 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, email newsletters, outreach events, the Learn to Fish program and Fish ON-line.
    • Fish and Wildlife – The ministry supports commercial fisheries through the development and implementation of science and monitoring programs that support sustainable quotas for the industry. Further, fishers have access to programs that provide for licensing and quota tracking that support business needs. The ministry directly (through staff and management work) supports industry initiatives such as Marine Stewardship Certification. This certification allows fisheries to get access to markets that require “eco-certification” and ensures that Ontario’s commercial fish products are well represented in the broader marketplace and can command premium prices.

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 put Ontario on a sound financial footing so we can protect against future threats like COVID‑19 and create opportunities for the people of Ontario to prosper. This includes modernizing and transforming our processes and functions using lean six sigma principles 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 to achieve more with less. As an extension of this, the transformation of the former Forestry Growth Fund to the Forest Sector Investment and Innovation Program followed the Business Success Framework (Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade (MEDJCT) and business supports review recommendations by Ernst and Young which incorporate an open and transparent application process, competitive rounds, a shorter and more streamlined evaluation process and service commitments that will be more effective and efficient.
    • 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.
    • Geospatial Data Services – The ministry coordinates partnerships to acquire and use foundation geospatial data across governments and the broader public service to reduce costs and ensure that data is accessible. The ministry delivers mapping tools, enterprise agreements and shared solutions that reduce duplication and costs.
    • Crown Land Management – The ministry ensures that Ontario pays fair market value for the private and commercial use of Crown land, including implementing sector-based initiatives.

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 exceptional customer service to two million anglers and hunters, including licensing and big game draw services, contact centre support, social media and the fish and wildlife private licence issuer network.
    • Natural Resources Information Portal – The ministry continues to implement the online Natural Resources Information Portal to reduce burden on businesses and people by providing them fast, accessible and secure online approval and activity reporting services. Initial efforts have been focused on modernizing forest management planning services that support the province’s forest products industry. This will be followed by the service delivery modernization for other activities including extracting aggregates and using land managed by MNRF for personal or commercial purposes.
    • Aggregate Resources Act Reform – Changes to the Aggregate Resources Act were made through Bill 132, Better for People, Smarter for Business Act on December 10, 2019 to reduce burden on business, while protecting the environment and mitigating impacts to local communities. The ministry is also intending to consult on regulatory and policy changes for the Aggregate Resources Act Regulation 244/97 and the provincial standards to reduce the regulatory burden on industry while maintaining strong environmental controls to ensure our water, air and natural environment are protected.

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 2020-21 include:

  • Lead the multi-ministry Ontario Bioheat Initiative to improve the business and policy environments for the use of biofuels for heat in Ontario. This initiative supports the increased demand for wood-based biofuels, which contributes to economic growth in 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, and federal and provincial governments to maintain market access in the United States.
  • The draft Forest Sector Strategy was developed through discussions at roundtable sessions with the forestry industry, municipalities and First Nations communities between November 2018 and May 2019. The draft strategy was posted on the ER for a 60-day public comment period (December 4, 2019 to February 5, 2020). MNRF also engaged and consulted northern and rural municipalities by hosting six regional sessions and nine regional and individual sessions with Indigenous communities and groups to share information on the draft strategy and gather feedback that will be considered in finalizing the strategy, followed by an implementation plan and a commitment to establish an advisory committee. The strategy is built on four pillars of action:
    1. Promoting stewardship and sustainability:
      • enhancing recognition of Ontario’s sustainable forest management system
      • conducting applied research and best science to support forest management planning teams
      • developing and strengthening Indigenous partnerships
      • protecting values and respecting Indigenous rights
    2. Putting more wood to work:
      • reducing regulatory burdens for industry to access wood
      • increasing forest growth and use of available wood supply
      • investing in newer technologies to improve the quality of the inventory information
      • providing wood supply certainty
    3. Improving our cost competitiveness:
      • maximizing the use of mill by-products
      • making strategic investments in Forest Access Roads
      • reviewing energy costs
      • modernizing forest management approval processes and reducing duplications
    4. Fostering innovation, markets and talent:
      • growing the talent in the sector with educational and training programs
      • enabling small and medium-sized businesses to access growing global export markets
      • increasing use of Ontario wood in construction and heating
      • advancing the Forest Sector Investment and Innovation Program
  • Next steps include considering all comments from the engagement /consultation sessions and environmental registry to finalize the strategy and seek government approval to release the final strategy. Concurrent with final strategy approvals will be the establishment of a Forest Sector Strategy Advisory Committee to support the development of an implementation plan for the various actions contained within this strategy. The advisory committee will provide advice on the implementation of the strategy and will provide input into the development of key performance indicators to measure and report on the progress of implementing the actions and the overall success of the forest sector strategy.
  • Implementation of the Forest Sector Investment and Innovation Program, which supports an action in the Fostering Innovation, Markets and Talent pillar of the forest sector strategy, will encourage regional economic development, business growth and job creation in forest-dependent regions across northern and rural Ontario by emphasizing:
    • Impact on the regional economy
    • Importance to Ontario’s forest sector
    • Process and / or product innovation
    • Exports / market expansion
    • Productivity improvements
  • Continue to deliver the Provincial Forest Access Roads Funding Program to support rural road infrastructure in Crown forests used by the forest industry, mining companies, utilities, railways, hunters, campers, anglers, and Indigenous communities, and to support emergency preparedness.

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 2020-21 include:

  • Implement Ontario’s Flooding Strategy by working with several ministries, and partners, to make Ontario more resilient to flooding in the long term.
  • Develop policy amendments or revisions to ensure the sustainable use and management of natural resources across Ontario, such as Crown land, forests, natural heritage, 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.
  • Continue to implement risk-informed approaches to dam safety under the Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act, including streamlined approaches for low risk dam repairs and agreements with qualified dam owners.
  • Through implementation of the Forest Sector Strategy, the Ontario government, working with the forest industry, along with partners in the research and education sector, Indigenous communities and other levels of government, will create a business climate that fosters growth, promotes innovation, and helps the industry adapt to an ever-changing business climate. The draft Forest Sector Strategy provides for actions related to four pillars: putting more wood to work, promoting stewardship and sustainability, improving our cost competitiveness and fostering innovation, markets, and talent.

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 2020-21 include:

  • Launching of a new technology to inventory Ontario’s Crown forests, which is used to monitor the land base and wood supply in Ontario. The new inventory will use LiDAR technology to create a three-dimensional image of the forest. The technology will provide more accurate measurements and forecasting of wood supply than previous inventories. Ontario’s application of the technology is one of the largest LiDAR projects in Canada. LiDAR’s application across the broader natural resource sector will also be explored.
  • 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 health research and monitoring to support forest pest management. Focus on invasive species in the Great-Lakes St. Lawrence area and science support of ongoing pest control programs for jack pine budworm in the Boreal forest.
  • 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 2020-21 in an area east of Ottawa that stretches to the Quebec border.
  • Beginning in 2019-20, MNRF commenced providing science support (research, expertise, and access to data/mapping resources) for Species at Risk and Parks to MECP through Service Level Agreements. This work will continue in 2020-21.

4. Mapping and geographic information

  • The Mapping and Geographic Information Program provides geographic information, Crown land surveying and information management services to government, academia, business and the public. In support of this program, Land Information Ontario (LIO) ensures geographic data is effectively collected, managed, and maintained and meets the objectives of Ontario’s Open Data Directive. Geographic data has many uses across the public, private and academic sectors, by supporting locational insight, place-based decision-making and navigation. 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 2020-21 include:

  • Improve and simplify public access to over 220 geographic datasets through Ontario GeoHub, a new data discovery and access tool. By providing public access to government 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.
  • Expand external partnerships through LIO to collect and improve a range of foundational geospatial data such as land parcels, aerial photography, elevation and roads and water in order to avoid duplication, reduce costs and enhance data quality.
  • Encourage Ontarians to participate in geographic naming decisions within their communities by completing online questionnaires. These names help to identify historic, cultural and natural features on the landscape that are essential for mapping, emergency response, resource management, travel and tourism and law enforcement.

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
  • public reporting

Key program initiatives in 2020-21 include:

  • MNRF is reviewing the Forest Management Planning Manual, the Forest Operations and Silvicultural Manual, and the Forest Information Manual and associated technical specifications to eliminate duplication and streamline requirements for implementation of existing forest management plans (FMPs) for the forest industry. Streamlining is contingent upon changes to Environmental Assessment requirements for forest management proposed by MECP in December of 2019, which recognize MNRF’s sustainable forest policy framework without requiring duplication under the Environmental Assessment Act.
  • MNRF will also undertake a broader review of the forest management planning framework to identify streamlining opportunities for the preparation of new FMPs. Areas of consideration include landscape level planning of strategic components of FMPs, increased professional reliance, and matching planning effort to level of forest management activities including streamlined opportunities for forest management for Indigenous community use north of the current Area of the Undertaking.
  • MNRF is proposing to streamline the delivery of the program by reducing the number of audits each year while maintaining the integrity of the program for its intended purpose. Enabling changes to the Independent Forest Audit Regulation and supporting policy will be required in 2020-21 for efficiencies to take effect for the 2021 audit year.
  • MNRF is developing strategic direction for managing forest pests in Ontario that proposes establishing strategic, risk-based direction to enhance our response to forest pest outbreaks, help protect forest health and improve resiliency of Ontario’s forests. The objective is to maintain healthy and resilient forests, minimize socioeconomic impacts from forest pests, and raise awareness of forest pests.
  • An amendment to the Crown Forest Sustainability Act (CSFA) has been proposed to enable forestry activities on Crown land to be conducted under the CFSA without requiring duplicative authorizations under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The proposed amendments would remove duplication, barriers, and costs, attracting investment and innovation to promote economic growth and create jobs, all while continuing to protect the health and diversity of life in our forests.
  • A project has been initiated to revise the Forest Management Guide for Conserving Biodiversity at the Stand and Site Scales. Revisions will be based upon recommendations from a formal review of the guide and will ensure that direction is based on the most current scientific, community, and Indigenous knowledge, is easy to use, addresses climate change, and does not unnecessarily restrict the forest industry or other forest users.
  • Active participation will continue in intergovernmental 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 the 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 will continue. 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 wildlife 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 2020-21 include:

  • Management of the Great Lakes fisheries to ensure long-term sustainable economic and social benefits from both recreational and commercial fishing on those water bodies. 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 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 native fish stocks.
  • Modernization of Ontario’s Moose Program through the development and implementation of changes to regulations, policies/guidelines, business processes, and the moose tag allocation system.
  • Continued emphasis on moose research and monitoring efforts to identify science priorities to ensure sustainable management of Ontario’s moose population and optimization of monitoring programs such as the moose aerial inventory program.
  • Completion of a comprehensive update of the ministry’s CWD plan, as well as potential legislative and regulatory amendments to support CWD prevention and response action.
  • Implementation of the finalized CWD Prevention and Response Plan, by consulting and finalizing regulatory amendments to support CWD prevention actions.
  • Implementation of changes to Ontario’s black bear management program, including addressing the future of the spring season, Bruce Peninsula seasons, bear baiting rules, and improving fairness for the tourism industry.
  • Implementation of changes to Ontario’s trapline allocation policy to improve consistency, clarity and fairness for the management and allocation of vacant registered trapline areas.

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 2020-21 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.
  • Continue to implement the ministry’s Natural Resources Information Portal, including service delivery modernization for forest management planning and aggregate resource management services. The new portal will make it easier and faster to exchange mandatory information with the forest and aggregate sectors, reduce costs and risks associated with outdated software, eliminate complex and confusing paper forms, and provide more effective online public engagement and access to natural resource management information. The portal will provide a digital first approach and be the central data repository to store submitted information, which will enable more efficient and cost-effective approval processes for forestry and aggregates.
  • Advance economic development through the localized operational delivery of the ministry’s forest sector strategy, wildlife review, and modernization of the aggregates program.
  • Work with qualified dam owners to streamline approvals for low-risk alterations, improvements and repairs to dams to reduce burden to the water power industry, while enhancing dam safety.

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 2020-21 include:

  • Promoting awareness of unsafe hunting practices and their contributing factors through public communication and outreach to hunters and the public.
  • Enforcement actions related to aquatic invasive species: including 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.
  • Compliance actions related to moose: increased public and stakeholder awareness of harvest rules and identification of moose, monitoring to address non-compliance, focussed analysis of occurrences and investigating reported moose harvest violations.
  • Enforcement actions related to illegal commercialization and trade of Ontario’s natural resources: gathering of information for the development of Intelligence products to assist focussing enforcement and outreach efforts.
  • 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 in the Ring of Fire region.

Key program initiatives in 2020-21 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 refocusing of 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 Wataynikaneyap Power Transmission Project, 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 and 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, fire and smoke risks.

Key program initiatives in 2020-21 include:

  • Continue to promote the FireSmart program to educate the public and communities about how to prepare for the risk of wildland fire, as well as actions they can implement to prevent and mitigate these fires in and around their properties and communities. The FireSmart program enables property owners and land managers to act to mitigate the undesirable impacts of wildland fires on their properties or other values, and appropriately plan for the threat of a wildland fire emergency.
  • Plan for, monitor and respond to wildland fires based on the Wildland Fire Strategy for Ontario, and support mutual aid partners across Canada and the United States.
  • Promote understanding of the ecological role of fire and use of fire to benefit resource management.
  • Provide active emergency management training and development of staff and continuity of operations planning. Lead and support inter and cross-ministry prevention, mitigation, and preparedness planning as well as coordination of response to emergencies. Participate in provincial corrective action initiatives to provide for the public safety of Ontarians.
  • Provide 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; records and information management and the administration of the Freedom of Information and Privacy Protection Act.

Key program initiatives in 2020-21 include:

  • Continue to 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.
  • Support Ontario Digital Service and Open Government priorities by continuing to share data and information openly, promoting transparency and opportunities for innovation.
  • Advance the ministry’s modernization efforts through ongoing hiring controls and vacancy management, development and implementation of organizational changes 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 2019-20 results

In 2019-20, MNRF delivered on its mandated key activities as exemplified through the following achievements:

  • Prepared and submitted Five-Year Environmental Assessment Report on Forest Management to MECP. The report documents MNRF’s implementation of its requirements under the Environmental Assessment Act approval for forest management (Declaration Order MNR-75) for the period April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2018 and provides supporting information for requested changes to MNRF’s EA approval submitted to MECP in the fall of 2019.
  • On December 10, 2019, Bill 132, Better for People, Smarter for Business Act, 2019 received Royal Assent. Amongst other provisions, the Crown Forest Sustainability Act, 1994 is amended to:
    • Allow the Minister to issue permits for the removal of forest resources in cases where an activity requires the forest resources to be removed and not be renewed for the duration of the activity;
    • Explicitly authorize the Minister to extend a forest management plan; and
    • Reduce red tape for the forest industry, consider recent changes in the Endangered Species Act, 2007 and remove the requirement that work schedules must be approved by the Minister.
  • On December 20, 2019 the MNRF posted several policy proposals on the Environmental Registry of Ontario proposing:
    • Legislative amendments to the CFSA to clarify that the CFSA’s forest policy framework would be the sole method by which species at risk and their habitat are addressed in Crown forest operations;
    • Reduction of the frequency of Independent Forest Audits while maintaining the effectiveness of the program in providing assurance of sustainable forest management; and
    • Implementation of strategic direction for managing forest pests in Ontario, which would focus on efficient and effective use of existing provincial resources and leverage collaboration with other jurisdictions and agencies.
  • 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:
    • Led delivery of the Forestry Growth Fund, provided critical input into the review and transformation of the program and launch of the new Forest Sector Investment and Innovation Program. This work was done in cooperation with the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade and is consistent with the open for business – business success framework and the Ernst and Young Business Supports review.
    • Is organizing in-market activities, including outbound and inbound trade missions, 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.
    • Supports an increase in domestic consumption through the Ontario Wood brand. Ontario Wood aims to provide consumers with a strong sense (i.e. the brand) of ‘why’ they should buy Ontario Wood products that are produced locally, from responsibly and sustainably managed public forests, while building a connection between wood products and the families and communities who depend on Ontario’s forest industry. This increases demand for locally produced wood products and the success of wood-based businesses in Ontario.
  • The ministry protected Ontarians from natural hazards by responding to wildland fires and flooding, with collaborative support from other jurisdictions and agencies. In 2019, 537 fires were recorded across the province with 269,634 hectares burned, compared to 1,324 fires and 265,461 hectares burned in 2018.
    • While the province experienced less than half of the previous year’s total number of wildland fires, the total amount of landscape affected was slightly larger and mainly confined to a localized corner of the Northwest Region. Several communities in the Northwest Region and one in the Northeast Region were directly threatened by wildland fire resulting in evacuations of residents. There were also widespread impacts to communities in the Northeast Region and Southern Region due to spring flooding as well as one community impacted by flooding in early winter in the Northwest Region.
    • MNRF also responded to the extreme fire situation in Australia by contributing fire management and specialized staff to a Canadian contingent that was deployed to Australia to support their fire suppression and response activities.
  • The ministry completed the provincial Moose Management Review with the support of the Big Game Management Advisory Committee. Extensive consultation and engagement were conducted across the province to explore how moose tag quotas are developed, how hunters apply for moose tags and potential improvements to the moose allocation process. Comprehensive changes were approved for 2021 implementation.
  • In December 2019, the Province made the first payments under its resource revenue sharing agreements with Grand Council Treaty #3, Wabun Tribal Council and Mushkegowuk Council, from eligible forestry and mining revenues. The First Nations may allocate resource revenue sharing funds towards key priorities that support economic development, education, health, community development and cultural development.
  • Mandatory online hunter reporting using the Fish and Wildlife Licensing Service was implemented in 2019 to support sustainable wildlife management as well as modernize the way that hunters could meet reporting requirements.
  • The ministry monitored commercial fishing vessels on Lake Erie through on-vessel inspections of daily harvest and Daily Catch Records for adherence to licence conditions regarding quota and harvest activities. Port Observers inspected up to 50% of all landings, representing up to 65% of all fish landed from Lake Erie.
  • The ministry’s Enforcement Branch successfully completed seven restorative justice cases in 2019-20 as part of its new Collaborative Compliance Initiative with Indigenous communities.
  • Compliance with laws that support management of Ontario’s natural resources continued in 2019-20 with a moose and an aquatic invasive species focus.
    • Examples of operational actions related to moose included increasing public and stakeholder awareness of harvest rules and identification of moose, monitoring to address non-compliance using a focused compliance approach, and investigating all reported violations related to moose harvest.
    • Examples of operational actions related to aquatic invasive species included increasing awareness of rules regulating invasive species through focussed outreach, education and promotion, as well as inspecting for compliance with rules aimed at preventing the introduction or spread of invasive species in specific pathways, taking a focused compliance monitoring approach.
  • The ministry conducted public engagement on how to improve the province’s resiliency to flooding and named a provincial Special Advisor on Flooding, Mr. Doug McNeil, in response to Ontario’s flood events in 2017 and 2019. Mr. McNeil’s report found:
    • Overall, the government and its partners were effective at reducing and mitigating risks, but more could be done.
    • Nothing from the 2019 flooding events pointed to human error or the negligent operation of water control structure as the cause of flooding.
    • Established policies, mitigation and response activities were effective in reducing further possible damage to communities; however, more can be done to improve flooding resiliency.
  • In 2019-20, the ministry’s Mapping and Geographic Information Program:
    • released Ontario GeoHub, a data discovery and access tool that allows users to download or stream the data they need;
    • maintained key foundation geospatial datasets including over 260,000 kilometers of roads and over 75,000 square kilometers 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 Eastern Ontario;
    • maintained more than 60,000 official geographic names to aid navigation and emergency response across Ontario;
    • provided survey advice and support to negotiators on several active land claims;
    • updated the web mapping application that allows surveyors, engineers and land use planners access to vital control data for seamless mapping and design of infrastructure such as highways, bridges, etc.
  • The ministry completed a comprehensive update of the CWD Prevention and Response Plan, as well as proposing legislative amendments to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act to support CWD prevention and response actions, which were passed as part of Bill 132.
    • The ministry also increased its monitoring for CWD due to recent cases in Quebec. In addition to regular annual surveillance, the ministry carried out additional testing. Two zones, one in eastern Ontario near the Quebec cases and one from Thunder Bay to Kenora, were monitored in 2019. CWD has never been detected in any Ontario wildlife.
  • The ministry continued to lead and support partners in undertaking actions to prevent the establishment and spread of invasive species, including control of invasive phragmites in the sensitive ecosystems in Long Point, eradication of several populations of water solider and water chestnut, and research to learn more about the number, locations and risks posed by invasive wild pigs.
  • The ministry continued to be a recognized leader in rabies surveillance and control. Since Ontario’s recent rabies outbreak began in December 2015, there have been 471 cases of raccoon strain rabies (22 in 2019) and 21 cases of fox strain rabies (0 new in 2019) confirmed in southern Ontario. In response, over five million oral rabies vaccine baits (one million in 2019), which help immunize most raccoons, skunks and foxes that eat them, have been distributed. The ministry’s efforts helped reduce the number of annual rabies cases by approximately 50 percent each year since 2016, and by 70 percent in 2019.
  • In support of the government’s commitment to fiscal responsibility and reducing the size of the deficit, MNRF implemented several measures in 2019-20 to achieve savings. Actions taken by the ministry to find efficiencies and reduce spending throughout the fiscal year resulted in approximately $7.4 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 2019-20 Annual Report.

Detailed financial information

Table 2: Ministry planned expenditures 2020-21 ($M)

Allocation of base spending depicting 2020-21 expenditures by vote/item, sub-item

Regional Operations


Policy and Planning


Forest Industry


Land and Resources Information Technology Cluster


Public Safety and Emergency Response


Mapping and Geographic Information


Fish and Wildlife Special Purpose Account


Provincial Services, Science and Research


Ministry Administration

Table 3: 2020-21 planned operating expenditures by vote/item, sub-item
Activity nameMinistry planned expenditures ($M)
Regional Operations108.8
Forest Industry168.8
Public Safety and Emergency Response122.3
Fish and Wildlife Special Purpose Account75.0
Provincial Services, Science and Research44.0
Policy and Planning26.3
Mapping and Geographic Information6.9
Ministry Administration33.1
Land and Resources Information Technology Cluster (spends $77.9 million and recovers $50.2 million for a net balance of $27.7)27.7
Total Planned Expenditures by Activity612.9
Table 4: Combined operating and capital summary by vote
Votes/ProgramsEstimates 2020-21 $Changes from 2019-20 Estimates $%Estimates 2019-20 $ footnote 1Interim Actuals 2019-20 $ footnote 1Actuals 2018-19 $ footnote 1

Operating expense

Ministry Administration33,447,200(3,905,000)(10.5)37,352,20042,454,90044,891,902
Natural Resource Management277,494,600(24,178,100)(8.0)301,672,700284,283,600310,502,008
Public Protection130,679,40030,083,40029.9100,596,000167,312,000235,377,866
Land and Resources Information & Information Technology Cluster28,185,600(2,523,900)(8.2)30,709,50027,889,80028,808,325
Total Operating Expense to be Voted469,806,800(523,600)(0.1)470,330,400521,940,300619,580,101
Statutory Appropriations5,167,014005,167,0141,125,014345,703
Ministry Total Operating Expense474,973,814(523,600)(0.1)475,497,414523,065,314619,925,804
Operating Expense Adjustment - Fish & Wildlife Special Purpose Account75,000,0003,180,0004.471,820,00071,591,90076,264,852
Operating Expense Adjustment - Cap and Trade Wind Down Account Reclassification0N/AN/AN/AN/A4,744,893
Consolidation Adjustment - Algonquin Forest Authority23,918,500(286,500)(1.2)24,205,00023,387,80022,898,066
Consolidation Adjustment - Forest Renewal Trust58,082,000(4,716,000)(7.5)62,798,00058,115,6002,798,984
Operating Expense Adjustment - Section 15 RecoveriesN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A5,191,957
Consolidation Adjustments - General Real Estate Portfolio(19,043,200)14,593,100(43.4)(33,636,300)(33,636,300)(32,711,783)
Consolidation Adjustments - Ontario Infrastructure and Lands CorporationN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A(1,288,260)
Total Including Consolidation & Other Adjustments612,931,11412,247,0002.0600,684,114642,524,314697,824,513

Operating assets

Ministry Administration1,000001,00000
Natural Resource Management4,824,0001,941,00067.32,883,0002,912,0004,228,100
Public Protection49,5008,70021.340,80049,60043,476
Land and Resources Information & Information Technology Cluster1,000001,00000
Total Operating Assets to be Voted4,875,5001,949,70066.62,925,8002,961,6004,271,576
Statutory AppropriationsN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Ministry Total Operating Assets4,875,5001,949,70066.62,925,8002,961,6004,271,576

Capital expense

Natural Resource Management16,859,6004,681,10038.412,178,50022,690,30016,646,632
Public Protection1,236,500(667,700)(35.1)1,904,2001,392,7003,013,360
Total Capital Expense to be Voted18,096,1004,013,40028.514,082,70024,083,00019,659,992
Statutory Appropriations19,997,1002,173,80012.217,823,30016,323,30013,689,332
Ministry Total Capital Expense38,093,2006,187,20019.431,906,00040,406,30033,349,324
Consolidation Adjustment - Algonquin Forest Authority241,50031,50015.0210,000238,700182,191
Consolidation Adjustments - General Real Estate Portfolio00000(18,169,660)
Total Including Consolidation & Other Adjustments38,334,7006,218,70019.432,116,00040,645,00015,361,855

Capital assets

Natural Resources Management34,255,3006,420,20023.127,835,10028,311,70017,339,848
Public Protection15,608,400(5,492,100)(26.0)21,100,50013,234,80012,676,515
Total Capital Assets to be Voted49,863,700928,1001.948,935,60041,546,50030,016,363
Statutory AppropriationsN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Ministry Total Capital Assets49,863,700928,1001.948,935,60041,546,50030,016,363
Ministry Total Operating and Capital including Consolidation and Other Adjustments (not including Assets)651,265,81418,465,7002.9632,800,114>683,169,314713,186,368
Table 5: Historic trend analysis
Historic trend analysis dataActuals
2019-20footnote 2
Ministry total operating and capital including consolidation and other adjustments (not including assets)$725,955,241$713,186,368$632,800,114$651,265,814
Percent changeN/A-2%-11%3%

The overall net increase in the ministry’s budget in 2020-21 includes increased base funding for emergency forest firefighting activities. In addition, the budget includes savings opportunities across the ministry to support a sustainable modernized organization, demonstrates fiscal responsibility and supports the government’s priority to reduce the size of the deficit while sustainably managing Ontario’s natural resources.

Variances in other fiscal periods are primarily due to accounting changes associated with centralization of the General Real Estate Portfolio.

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

  • replaced 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 explore 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 two forest management units, the Pic and the White River Forests, and the proposed addition of a third forest (Nagagami Forest) over the next two years.

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. Membership includes representatives from Canada, Ontario and Manitoba.

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 most 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 6: Expenditure and revenue data for agencies, boards and commissions
Name2020-21 Estimates: Expenditure $2020-21 Estimates: Revenue $2019-20 Interim Actuals: Expenditure $2019-20 Interim Actuals: Revenue $2018-19 Actuals: Expenditure $2018-19 Actuals: Revenue $
Algonquin Forestry Authority24,160,00025,400,00023,626,50024,860,50023,080,25725,109,000
Big Game Management Advisory Committee30,000N/A38,257N/AN/AN/A
Council of the Association of Ontario Land Surveyors30,000N/A19,500N/A39,788N/A
Council of the Ontario Professional Foresters Association28,000N/A2,134N/A21,000N/A
Fish and Wildlife Heritage Commission15,000N/A8,669N/A15,838N/A
Lake of the Woods Control Board2,400N/A2,665N/A412N/A
Nawiinginokiima Forest Management Corporation1,965,9903,568,669818,5191,979,4723,698,9857,826,963
Niagara Escarpment Commission2,391,300N/A2,651,665382,654,339N/A
Ontario Geographic Names Board2,500N/A550N/A6,934N/A
Ontario Moose-Bear Allocation Advisory CommitteeN/AN/AN/AN/A6,906N/A
Ottawa River Regulation Planning Board65,000N/A59,709N/A56,671N/A
Rabies Advisory Committee700N/A100N/A541N/A

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
        • Forest Economics and Business Branch
        • Operations Branch
      • Policy Division
        • Crown Forests and Lands Policy Branch
        • Resources Planning and Development Policy Branch
        • Fish and Wildlife 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

Appendix: 2019-20 Annual report

2019-20 Results

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

  • The Surface Water Monitoring Centre:
    • Issued 63 flood and 28 drought messages to partners to enable them to respond to local issues;
    • Improved communication products to inform partners about Ottawa River flooding;
    • Coordinated dialogue between agencies about Great Lakes flooding so preparedness and response could be improved;
    • Completed Ontario Hydrometric Network Client survey of 55 local flood warning agencies so that data collection priorities are maintained.
  • Ministry staff 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.
  • Ministry staff assisted communities affected by spring flooding in the Pembroke, North Bay, Parry Sound and Sudbury districts. Fire Ranger crews were deployed to assist with sandbagging efforts and facilitating the movement of water from low-lying areas.
  • MNRF supported natural hazard management and repairs to flood and erosion control structures by providing $3.8 million in grant funding to the 36 conservation authorities (CAs), plus $3.95 million in capital funding to 19 CAs for 51 water and erosion control infrastructure projects.
  • The government named a Special Advisor on Flooding to advise the Province on ways to reduce the impacts of flooding and help to ensure communities can recover quickly. The Special Advisor’s report was made publicly available in late November 2019 and identified 66 recommendations. MNRF is leading the government’s response and will consider the report when evaluating and identifying opportunities to make communities more resilient to flooding.
  • The ministry assisted the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management with the precautionary evacuation of Kashechewan First Nation in April 2019 due to risk of flooding. Ministry staff supported the evacuation of community members to the host communities of Cochrane, Timmins, Thunder Bay and Kapuskasing and provided surveillance flights of James Bay coastline by Cochrane District.
  • MNRF supported the evacuation of community members in Bearskin Lake First Nation during the fall of 2019 due to flooding caused by an ice jam on the Severn River, downstream from the community. Evacuees were accommodated in the host communities of Sioux Lookout and Thunder Bay.
  • Ministry staff aided several Far North Indigenous communities affected by wildland fire and smoke by the facilitation of evacuations, provision of values protection in communities and the ongoing communication of current information.
  • The ministry worked closely with communities and local organizations to provide support and information to help mitigate the threat of wildland fires. Presentations were made to local communities and organizations in Killarney, Renfrew County and Georgian Bay over the 2019 season. The presentations focused on community action and tangible steps that can be taken to help reduce wildfire risk.
  • Through the Ontario FireSmart Communities Transfer Payment Grant program, communities are offered funding to assist with the development of wildland fire hazard forest maps and a Community Wildland Fire Protection Plan that identifies mitigation opportunities to reduce wildland fire hazards. Four communities have finalized their Community Wildland Fire Protection Plans in 2020 (Ignace, Chapple, Conmee and Kilarney).
  • The ministry imported 169 firefighting personnel and 32 support staff from other jurisdictions for emergency wildland fire assistance in 2019. Within Canada, Ontario relied on support from Nova Scotia, Northwest Territories, New Brunswick, British Columbia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, Saskatchewan, and Parks Canada. Internationally, fire personnel came from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.
  • Prior to the significant fire escalation in Ontario, MNRF provided support to Alberta, Yukon and Northwest Territories with specialized fire personnel, equipment and aircraft resources. Ontario was also able to provide much-needed assistance to Australia over the winter in response to their severe wildland fire emergency.

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

  • MNRF provided fishing and hunting opportunities to approximately two million Outdoors Card holders which generated over $60 million in licence sales.
  • The ministry provided approximately eight million fish for stocking purposes and population re-habilitation through the Fish and Wildlife Program’s fish culture stations.
  • Mandatory on-line hunter reporting using the Fish and Wildlife Licensing Service was implemented in 2019 to support sustainable wildlife management.
  • The ministry distributed approximately 1.2 million rabies vaccine baits, tested 4,425 samples for rabies, and vaccinated over 3,000 raccoons and skunks by hand through MNRF’s trap-vaccinate-release program. Raccoon and fox strain rabies cases in the province declined by 70% in 2019 from 2018 case numbers.
  • MNRF received and considered 52 name proposals from members of the public for geographic features, resulting in 12 approved names. Five approved names were in memory of naval officers from Ontario who lost their lives in the Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Kootenay and HMCS Nipigon disasters in the 1960s.
  • The ministry provided 50 geographic feature names for the Ontario portion of Stories from the Land: Indigenous Place Names in Canada.
  • MNRF collected fees including 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 $143 million in revenue. The ministry is continuing to work to ensure that Public Lands Act service fees are aligned with the costs of providing services.
  • MNRF provided 1,328 Crown Patents records to clients requesting them from April 1, 2019, to March 31, 2020.
  • The ministry trained approximately 17,000 new hunters through the Ontario Hunter Education Program, generating over $500,000 in revenue directed to the Fish and Wildlife Special Purpose Account.
  • MNRF issued more than 8,000 trapping licences and trained more than 800 new trappers, generating over $250,000 in revenue directed to the Fish and Wildlife Special Purpose Account.
  • The ministry served more than 450 Ontario Wood partners, including recruitment of 26 new partners, and supported current partners by promoting their businesses to the people of Ontario through brand awareness that wood products from Ontario come from responsibly and sustainably managed public forests.
  • The ministry leveraged federal funding to support small- and medium-sized forest products companies’ access to new markets in other countries.
  • The ministry released the Draft Forest Sector Strategy, which aligns with the government’s stated priorities of red tape reduction, job creation, and promoting economic growth and prosperity across the province. The strategy also aligns with several other strategies of the government including the draft Made-In-Ontario Environment Plan and Ontario’s Housing Supply Action Plan. It is designed to help Ontario achieve its objectives to grow the forest sector and create opportunity and prosperity for the people who depend on it while ensuring forests continue to be managed sustainably for future generations.
  • MNRF responded to 145 Freedom of Information requests with an extended compliance rate of approximately 90 percent.
  • The ministry published 55 new datasets to the Ontario Data catalogue and updated 21 datasets in the Ontario Data catalogue, including moving 10 datasets from restricted access to open access.
  • MNRF responded to over 9,000 inquires about Ontario’s geospatial data and mapping services and products.

Key activity 3: Promote economic growth and job creation

  • MNRF led delivery of the Forestry Growth Fund and provided critical input into the review and transformation of the program and launch of the new Forest Sector Investment and Innovation Program, in cooperation with MEDJCT. The new program is consistent with the open for business – business success framework and the Ernst and Young Business Supports review.
  • Three Minister’s Orders were issued to allow developments important for a sustainable economy, including upgrades to water and waste systems to support infrastructure in First Nation communities, and the construction of a new school. One Lieutenant Governor in Council Order was issued to facilitate the construction of an electrical transmission system to connect 17 remote First Nations communities.
  • The forest sector is an important part of Ontario’s history and a critical part of the province’s future. The forest sector generates $18 billion in total revenue annually (Statistics Canada, 2018), $6.5 billion in export revenue annually (Government of Canada, 2019), contributes $4.3 billion to provincial GDP (Statistics Canada, 2018) and supports 155,000 jobs (MNRF, 2018). The draft Forest Sector Strategy sets out key goals and actions to transform the forest sector over the next 10 years. Together, the Ontario government and the forest industry, along with partners in the research and education sector, Indigenous communities and other levels of government, will create a business climate that fosters growth, promotes innovation, helps the industry adapt to an ever-changing business climate, and ensures that Ontario’s forests will continue to be managed responsibly and sustainably for future generations.

Key activity 4: Conduct monitoring, research, and planning

  • MNRF 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. In 2019-20, 129 lakes were surveyed: 26 in Southern Region, 51 in the Northwest and 52 in the Northeast.
  • The ministry conducted focused aquatic monitoring on several 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 were evaluated on these water bodies collaboratively with MECP. In 2019-20, creel surveys were conducted on Rainy Lake and Rice Lake, and netting surveys took place on Lake of the Woods, Rice Lake and Lake Nipigon. In addition, summer and winter creels along with netting surveys and lake trout and whitefish egg collections were conducted on Lake Simcoe.
  • The Lake Ontario lake-wide prey fish assessment was completed 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 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.
  • MNRF staff worked with deer hunters to conduct additional comprehensive Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) monitoring in Wildlife Management Unit 65 in response to the detection of CWD on a game farm in Quebec. The ministry also conducted comprehensive CWD monitoring in southwestern Ontario as previously planned. In 2019-20, two surveillance zones, one in eastern Ontario and one in northwestern Ontario, were monitored for CWD and the disease was not detected.
  • The ministry 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 commenced 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 commenced in 2019-20 to mitigate the outbreak and its potential impacts on forests and wood supply in Red Lake, Dryden and Kenora.
    • 100,000 hectares of jack pine forest was sprayed in June 2019 with the organic insecticide. Early reports and monitoring suggest that the spray was effective in controlling jack pine budworm populations and good survivorship of the jack pine trees in those areas is expected. Monitoring suggests the population of jack pine budworm to be in decline in the core area of the 2019 outbreak.
  • The ministry continued moose aerial inventories throughout 2019-20 with the completion of aerial surveys of 11 wildlife management units and one reserve. 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.
  • Forest health research and monitoring continued 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 are ongoing with the Canadian Food inspection Agency, Canadian Forestry Service and other partners. Emphasis was on technical and science support for the 2019-20 pest control program for jack pine budworm in Northwestern Ontario involving aerial spraying of 90,000 hectares of forest near Red Lake.
  • The Crown Land Use Policy Atlas was amended to provide better clarity for fishing and hunting activities.
  • MNRF worked 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. This is an ongoing project to help furnish information for addressing regulatory issues threatening the viability of eastern Canada hardwood lumber and value-added wood exports to the European Union. Several presentations and reports highlighting the results of this research have been made to support the argument that the heat treatment programs effectively mitigate risks of pest contamination in exported logs and lumber to support the case for the European Union to change their import regulations.
  • Under the Far North Act, communities that have completed community-based land use 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 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) world heritage site planning discussions.
  • Significant progress was made towards completing draft community-based land use plans with three communities: Marten Falls, McDowell Lake and Constance Lake.

Key activity 5: Develop legislation, policies and implement programs

  • Changes were made to the Aggregate Resources Act to reduce regulatory burden on business while protecting the environment and mitigating impacts to communities that included:
    • Reducing overlap between the Aggregate Resources Act and municipal processes;
    • Improving access to aggregates resources;
    • Streamlining approval processes, clarifying existing tools; and
    • Providing better protections for water resources and improving rehabilitation of aggregate sites.
  • The ministry has committed to further consult on potential regulatory and policy changes to support aggregate reform in the future.
  • Changes were made to the Oil, Gas and Salt Resources Act to reduce burdens to business that included:
    • Allowing future regulations, where appropriate, to relieve pre-existing operations from new requirements that would apply to new activities;
    • Expanding the ability to use rules-in-regulation approaches so they can be used for more activities;
    • Clarifying the types of geological evaluation and testing activities captured by the definition of ‘well’;
    • Modernizing how transparency objectives for annual Oil, Gas and Salt Resources Trust financial reports are achieved and how they are publicly shared; and
    • Providing clarity on process matters related to hearings and appeals.
  • The ministry released a framework in April 2019 to guide the development of Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act Section 16 agreements with interested and qualified dam owners to allow repairs, alterations or improvements to their dams without MNRF approval. These agreements have the potential to enhance dam safety and reduce burden for the waterpower industry. MNRF executed an agreement with Ontario Power Generation on June 19, 2019 – the largest industrial dam owner in Ontario.
  • In December 2019, working closely with MECP, the ministry amended the Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act to create a one-window approach for monitoring and reporting of methyl mercury impacts by the waterpower industry.
  • The Public Lands Act was amended to increase clarity and efficiency for government, property owners and business owners, related to shoreline occupations, reduced liability for road activities and release of reservations on title to property.
  • The ministry continued to finalize Ontario’s Tree Seed Transfer Policy, developed through science collaboration between MNRF and Natural Resources Canada. Technical input was received from the forest industry, seed associations and nurseries.
  • MNRF 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.
  • The ministry 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.
  • MNRF led and worked with partners to implement priority actions in the Ontario Invasive Species Strategic Plan to prevent the establishment and spread of invasive species. The ministry drafted Prevention and Response Plans for European water chestnut and water soldier.
  • The ministry worked collaboratively with the Ontario Biodiversity Council, other jurisdictions and partners to support nature-based solutions and planning for the post-2020 global, national and provincial biodiversity frameworks.
  • MNRF delivered legislated tax incentive programs and stewardship granting programs for landowners, stakeholders and partners, including Indigenous organizations and individuals.
  • The ministry continued to engage key dam industry stakeholders through the MNRF 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.
  • MNRF continued to lead projects within the OPS, the broader public service and private sector to acquire aerial photography. This work achieved cost savings of more than 75 percent for participants and ensured the data is accessible.
  • The ministry 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.
  • MNRF prepared and submitted its 5-Year Environmental Assessment Report on Forest Management to MECP. The report documents MNRF’s implementation of its requirements under the Environmental Assessment Act approval for forest management (Declaration Order MNR-75) for the period April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2018 and provides supporting information for requested changes to MNRF’s Environmental Assessment approval submitted to MECP in the fall of 2019.
  • On December 10, 2019, Bill 132, Better for People, Smarter for Business Act, 2019 received Royal Assent. Amongst other provisions, the Crown Forest Sustainability Act, 1994 is amended to:
    • Allow the Minister to issue permits for the removal of forest resources in cases where an activity requires the forest resources to be removed and not be renewed for the duration of the activity;
    • Explicitly authorize the Minister to extend a forest management plan; and
    • Reduce red tape for the forest industry, consider recent changes in the Endangered Species Act, 2007 and remove the requirement that work schedules must be approved by the Minister.
  • MNRF supported the activities of the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers with 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, “A Vision for Canada’s Forests”.
  • Ministry staff 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.
  • MNRF played a leadership role on interjurisdictional 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.
  • The ministry 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.
  • MNRF continued to maintain and update its suite of forest management guides to ensure that direction is based on the most current scientific, community, and Indigenous knowledge, is easy to use, addresses climate change, and does not unnecessarily restrict the forest industry or other forest users. The ministry initiated a project to revise the Forest Management Guide for Conserving Biodiversity at the Stand and Site Scale direction based upon recommendations from a formal review of the guide, which was completed in 2016.
  • Ministry staff prepared an Afforestation Guide as a companion to the Southern Ontario Silviculture Guide. The guide contains advice and best management practices to support afforestation planning in southern Ontario. The guide will assist stakeholders, conservation authorities, woodlot owners, municipalities, consultants, and growers in making decisions on plantation establishment.
  • MNRF worked with the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development (formerly the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities) to implement forest industry heavy equipment and mill operations training in Northern Ontario for new and incumbent forest industry workers.
Ministry interim actual expenditures 2019-20footnote 3
Operating ($M)642.5
Capital ($M)40.6
Staff Strength (as of March 31, 2020)footnote 42,846

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.