Ministry overview

Ministry’s vision

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

Ministry’s mission

To manage and promote the responsible use of Ontario’s natural resources.

Mandate

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) is responsible for protecting and 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:

  • protect the public from natural disasters or hazards, such as floods and wildland fires
  • deliver direct services to the public and industry, such as fishing and hunting licences
  • promote economic growth and job creation by supporting industries like forestry, aggregates, and hunting
  • conduct monitoring, research, and planning for the management and use of Ontario's natural resources
  • 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 of Natural Resources and Forestry is continuing to explore opportunities to advance the government’s fiscal commitments so we can protect Ontarians against threats like COVID–19 and inflationary impacts, 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.

2023–24 Strategic Plan

The ministry’s strategic plan contains long-term goals and desired strategic outcomes that will guide MNRF and focus efforts to advance the achievement of our mandate and priorities.

MNRF is committed to 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 measure its performance more effectively in achieving outcomes and value-for-money.

The ministry is undertaking several initiatives throughout 2023–24 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
    • Ongoing implementation of Sustainable Growth: Ontario’s Forest Sector Strategy (FSS)FSS is part of the government’s plan to create jobs, reduce administrative burden, and promote economic growth and prosperity across the province, while ensuring responsible stewardship of our natural resources for future generations. The strategy aligns with other government strategies including the Made-In-Ontario Environment Plan and Ontario’s Housing Supply Action Plan to help Ontario achieve its objectives to responsibly grow the forest sector while creating opportunity and prosperity for the many people who depend on it. Four pillars of action, with specific actions and goals for each pillar, provide a framework to collaborate with the forest sector, other ministries, external partners, and other levels of government.
    • Continued implementation of the Forest Biomass Action Plan (FBAP) – As part of delivering on commitments in the FSS, the ministry released a 5-year action plan with the goal of securing jobs, supporting economic development, and encouraging sustainability in the forest sector through the use of Ontario’s forest biomass (mill residues, forest biofibre). Implementation of the plan’s actions will continue until the end of 2026. The Ministry has received Treasury Board / Management Board of Cabinet (TB/MBC) approval for $11.2 million in 2023–24 for the first year of funding under a new Bioeconomy Transfer Payment Program. This program will focus on supporting initiatives that secure and increase long- term wood utilization across the province, with a focus on underutilized species and forest biomass. At the time this document went to print, program design details are still under development and subject to TB/MBC approval.
    • Forest Policy Framework – The ministry is committed to enhancing sustainable forest management in Ontario’s managed forests to support long-term forest health, while ensuring that Ontario’s Forest sector and products continue to meet standards of responsible forestry. Activities include modernizing forest management planning, responding to the review of the Independent Forest Audit process and revising the Forest Management Guide for Conserving Biodiversity at the Stand and Site Scale. The ministry continues to make information available on how to consider climate change and is developing strategic direction for managing forest pests in Ontario.
    • Public Lands Act Policy Framework – The ministry is reviewing how to streamline the process for municipalities to purchase public lands from the province to support economic development in communities, including those in central and northern Ontario.
    • Conservation Authorities Act – The ministry will develop regulations under the Act to focus conservation authorities on their core role of natural hazards management and streamline development approvals, including those in support of the government’s housing supply action plan.
    • Implementation of Protecting People and Property: Ontario’s Flooding Strategy – Released in March 2020, the strategy includes over 90 initiatives designed to help ensure the continued social and economic prosperity of Ontario communities threatened by flooding. As the lead for the Strategy, the ministry will continue to collaborate with other ministries, municipalities, and external partners to advance the actions outlined within the Strategy and increase the province’s resiliency to flood related emergencies.
    • Aggregate Resources Policy Framework – The ministry is focused on updating the Aggregates Policy and Procedures Manual to ensure the changes to the regulation and technical standards that came into effect in 2021 and 2022 are clearly understood by industry and the public. The ministry is also planning on updating the 2016 Aggregates Supply and Demand Study for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. The ministry remains committed to providing business certainty, while also maintaining our commitment to minimize impacts to 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. Science services including inventory, monitoring, research, analyses, and reporting, all provide diagnostics to inform decision-making and policy development related to the management and regulation of natural resources and the environment.
    • Outdoor Recreation Opportunities – The ministry will continue to promote fish and wildlife outdoor activities in 2023- 24 through marketing and communications channels, including social media, fishing and hunting regulation summaries, newsletters, outreach events, the Learn to Fish program and Fish ON-Line. Anglers and hunters spend approximately $2.0 billion annually in Ontario.
    • Fish and Wildlife – The ministry will support commercial fisheries through science and monitoring programs that support sustainable quotas for the industry. Fishers have access to programs that provide for licensing and quota tracking that support business needs. The ministry directly supports industry initiatives such as Marine Stewardship Certification. This certification allows fisheries to access markets requiring “eco-certification” and ensures that Ontario’s commercial fish products are well represented in the broader marketplace. The ministry supports the recreational fishery, which is important to the province, both economically and socially. With more than 250,000 lakes and countless rivers and streams, Ontario’s vast aquatic resources provide anglers a wide range of fishing opportunities, from shoreline fishing in the city to fly-in fishing trips in remote areas of the province. There are 1.1 million people licensed to hunt and fish in Ontario. Anglers alone spend $1.75 billion per year on recreational fishing in Ontario. In addition to management of self-sustaining fish populations, the ministry raises approximately eight million fish per year and stocks them in 1,200 lakes across the province, both to rehabilitate degraded populations, but also to provide new fishing opportunities and the economic benefits these provide. The ministry also supports sustainable native wildlife populations and their ecosystems, which provide important ecological, cultural, economic, and social benefits for Ontarians. Hunters spend more than $587 million annually on hunting trips, which support jobs and businesses in many rural and northern communities that depend on them.
    • Red Tape Reduction – Since 2019, the ministry has reduced direct annual costs to business by approximately $3 million and regulatory compliance requirements by 18%. MNRF continues to be a top contributor to the government’s burden reduction commitments. MNRF will continue to reduce red tape by modernizing the regulatory environment and being responsive to stakeholders, improving our natural resources programs and services and growing Ontario’s natural resources sector.
    • Geologic Carbon Storage – The ministry will continue to move ahead with Ontario’s plan to regulate geologic carbon storage through a phased approach as outlined in the Roadmap towards regulating geologic carbon storage that was released on Ontario.ca in 2022.

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 advances the government’s commitment to fiscal prudence so we can protect against threats like COVID–19 and inflationary impacts, 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.
    • Managing Risks of Subsurface Gas Migration and Legacy Wells – the ministry received approval for $23.652 million over three years to support its work on the development of a comprehensive long-term action plan to help manage risks posed by legacy gas wells and related subsurface gas migration hazards.
    • Integrated Resource Monitoring – The ministry is implementing recommendations developed through the Integrated Monitoring Framework initiative to modernize and increase the efficiency of monitoring programs that support effective management of forest, wildlife, and fisheries resources.
    • Geospatial Data Services – The ministry coordinates partnerships to acquire, use and distribute foundational geospatial data across governments, the broader public sector, academic and business sectors, and the public to reduce costs and ensure that geospatial data is accurate and accessible. The ministry embraces Ontario’s digital service standard to deliver mapping tools, enterprise agreements and shared solutions that reduce duplication and costs.
    • Crown Land Management – The ministry ensures that users and occupiers of Crown land under the Public Lands Act pay fair market value for private and commercial use of Crown land.
    • Leveraging federal funding for flood mapping – The ministry continues to work with the federal government to secure federal investment in creating and updating flood mapping in Ontario. The ministry is committed to continuing to work with federal partners to secure additional rounds of funding for Ontario and continue to invest in local projects of greatest value to municipalities, Indigenous communities, and other partners.
    • Lean – The ministry is committed to using Lean processes to develop efficient, effective, and nimble public services. Implementation of the ministry Lean Strategy continues with a focus on communications, training and applying lean practices to continuously improve our business processes and work experience by challenging business as usual. The ministry continues to increase its capacity to use Lean processes by leveraging dedicated training, a lean mentoring program and a community of practice to implement lean processes.

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
    • Fishing and Hunting Customer Service and Support – The ministry continues to provide customer service to anglers and hunters, including licensing and big game draw services, contact centre support, social media and the fish and wildlife licence issuer network. The ministry’s contact centre has undertaken a Lean assessment and implemented enhancements to their phone service to help improve and modernize the client experience. This includes streamlining incoming calls to reduce the amount of phone menu navigation, and adding in-queue messaging and 24-hour self-service information to provide clients with access to commonly requested information.
    • Natural Resources Enforcement – The ministry completed orientation and onboarding of an additional 25 Conservation Officers and will continue its focus on enforcement priorities such as prevention of illegal moose hunting, promotion of hunting safety, prevention of illegal trade and commercialization of Ontario’s animal and plant species, and prevention of the introduction and spread of invasive species.
    • Natural Resources Information Portal (NRIP) – The ministry continues to implement the online Natural Resources Information Portal to reduce burden on businesses and people by providing fast, accessible, and secure online approval and activity reporting services. In 2023–24, the ministry will continue to modernize services to clients focused on accessibility, alignment with Ontario Digital Standards, and improving functionality. This will include expanded ability to pay online and adding authorizations options for enhanced online submissions.
    • Approvals and Authorizations Modernization – The ministry is modernizing services and approvals by reviewing 100% of all regulatory approvals under 23 pieces of legislation, seeking to optimize delivery. In 2023–24, the ministry is planning multiple releases to move approvals online, providing clients 24–7 access to applications.
    • Niagara Escarpment Modernization – In support of the Housing Supply Action Plan, amendments to the Niagara Escarpment Plan and Development Act, its supporting regulations and the Niagara Escarpment Plan, will modernize and streamline processes including those related to development permit applications. Existing policy protections for the Niagara Escarpment will remain intact while improving service delivery for permitting and reducing other burdens to find efficiencies in legislation, regulation and policy.

Ministry programs

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

1. Forest industry

The Forest Industry Program leads economic development for the forestry sector 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, the management and collection of Crown timber charges and the delivery of business development policies and initiatives affecting Ontario’s Forest products sector.

Key program initiatives in 2023–24

  • Continue to defend Ontario’s interests in the ongoing softwood lumber trade dispute between Canada and the United States (US). The dispute involves ongoing investigations, administrative reviews conducted by the US Department of Commerce, and multiple appeals taking place under NAFTA/CUSMA and at the World Trade Organization. MNRF works closely with our partners in industry, other provinces, and the federal government to support the Canadian forest industry, advocate for free trade, and maintain market access in the United States.
  • The ministry has entered into an agreement with the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) to provide support for Ontario’s softwood lumber remanufacturers during the softwood lumber trade dispute with the US. Under the agreement, MNRF will match the Federal government contribution, up to $15 million, for a maximum program payout of $30 million once the softwood lumber litigation has been settled or after the 5-year program eligibility period has ended (whichever is sooner). The program eligibility period ends in June 2023.
  • Implement Sustainable Growth: Ontario’s Forest Sector Strategy. The FSS was released on August 20, 2020, and is built on four pillars of action:
    • promoting stewardship and sustainability
    • putting more wood to work
    • improving our cost competitiveness
    • fostering innovation, markets, and talent
  • Adopt a whole of government approach by continuing to collaborate with other ministries, external partners, Indigenous communities, and other levels of government to undertake projects and activities that support FSS goals and actions. This will include public awareness campaigns, advocacy efforts, legislative and regulatory changes, policy and program development, transfer payment support, and the procurement of research and studies.
  • Implement the five-year Forest Biomass Action Plan (FBAP), as committed to under Pillar 3 of the FSS. The FBAP identifies priority areas for action aimed at addressing five objectives, including: identifying pathways to markets, supporting demand, creating an enabling policy environment, supporting Indigenous participation, partnerships and reconciliation, and increased communication about forest bioeconomy development opportunities. Key activities ongoing this fiscal and planned as part of FBAP implementation in 2023–24 include the procurement of Phase II of the Forest Biomass Market Pathways Report.
  • The Ministry has received Treasury Board / Management Board of Cabinet (TB/MBC) approval for $11.2 million in 2023–24 for the first year of funding under a new Bioeconomy Transfer Payment Program. This program will focus on supporting initiatives that secure and increase long-term wood utilization across the province, with a focus on underutilized species and forest biomass. At the time this document went to print, program design details were still under development and subject to TB/MBC approval.
  • 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.
  • Continue to deliver, in collaboration with the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, the Forest Sector Investment and Innovation Program (FSIIP), which supports actions in the Putting More Wood to Work and Fostering Innovation, Markets and Talent pillars of the FSS. There is currently high demand for support from this program. FSIIP will continue to encourage regional economic development, business growth and job creation in forest-dependent regions across northern and rural Ontario by supporting projects that demonstrate:
    • positive impact on regional economies
    • 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.
  • Re-establish the Wildfire Solutions Forum with forest industry leadership and provincial wildfire leadership to improve forest industry resilience. The Forum will promote dialogue and collaboration by developing solutions to improve on wildfire prevention, mitigation, and response as it relates to impacts to forest industry business practices.

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 2023–24

  • Implement Ontario’s Flooding Strategy by working with several ministries, and partners to make Ontario more resilient to flooding in the long term. Priorities include developing new guidance, investing in the creation and updating of enhanced flood mapping and promoting sound land use planning decisions.
  • Develop an offsetting framework that would require a net positive impact on wetlands and help to reverse the decades-long trend of wetland loss in Ontario. This follows the public posting of a discussion paper on ecological offsetting.
  • Update regulations under the Conservation Authorities Act that outline how development and other activities in and around watercourse, wetlands, and areas subject to flooding, erosion and other natural hazards are managed, to streamline approvals and ensure efforts are focused on best protecting Ontarians from the impacts of natural hazards.
  • Update and develop new policy under the Aggregates Resources Act for the Aggregates Policies and Procedures Manual including site plan amendments policy and technical reports policy for new aggregate applications.
  • Undertake an update to the 2016 Aggregates Supply and Demand Study for the Greater Golden Horseshoe.
  • Develop policy to ensure the sustainable use and management of Crown land, natural heritage, mineral aggregate resources, oil, gas and salt resources, and waters.
  • Collaborate with other Great Lakes jurisdictions to support the implementation of Great Lakes priorities to manage and protect the shared waters for future generations.
  • Work with the Niagara Escarpment Commission to implement the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act and to modernize and streamline land use planning of the Niagara Escarpment Program, while continuing to protect the Escarpment 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.

3. Natural resource science and research

The Science and Research branch 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 branch 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), including Ontario Parks.

Key program initiatives in 2023–24

  • Utilize 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 Light Detection and Ranging (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 application across the broader natural resource sector will also be explored.
  • Use 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.
  • Utilize forest health monitoring to support forest pest management, including undertaking annual forest health surveys to assess the impact of forest pests, supporting pest control programs for spruce budworm in the Boreal Forest and monitoring the outbreak cycle of spongy moth (previously referred to as gypsy moth) thorough the forecasting based on egg mass densities and by delineating the annual defoliation during seasonal aerial surveys.
  • Undertake wildlife research and monitoring to inform Ontarians about the health of wildlife across the province conducting aerial inventories of moose populations; delivery of Ontario’s black bear population monitoring project; rabies control program; testing to monitor for the presence of Chronic Wasting Disease (a fatal disease affecting white-tailed deer, American elk, moose, and woodland caribou); investigate sightings of wild pigs(a potentially costly invasive species), and remove animals as required. Also, select wildlife species will be monitored for SARS–CoV–2, the virus that causes COVID–19.
  • Conduct applied forest research to support resource management decision- making regarding silviculture best practices, growth and yield modelling, oak wilt disease, beech leaf disease, hemlock woolly adelgid, seed transfer, genetic tree form improvement, forest regeneration, wood product carbon sequestration, and landscape-level evaluations.
  • Continue working with MECP to develop a caribou science plan to fulfil the Canada-Ontario Caribou Conservation agreement established April 2022.

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 2023–24

  • Acquire up to 30,000 square kilometres of LiDAR data through the new Provincial Elevation Mapping Program providing high resolution elevation data that serves multiple business sectors, including flood mapping, agriculture, engineering, surveying, mining, and resource management.
  • Continue the journey to become digitally progressive, and guided by the Ministry’s Alpha Digital Strategy, provide exceptional services to citizens, stakeholders, and businesses, while being transparent and inclusive.
  • Provide public access to over 350 geographic datasets, plus thousands of associated and derived datasets, through Ontario GeoHub, a data discovery and access tool that allows users to download or stream the data they need. 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 and ensuring Ontario is delivering simpler, faster, and better services for people and businesses.
  • Provide survey advice to the mining, waterpower, and construction industries to accurately delineate land boundaries, and to support First Nations land claim negotiations.
  • Expand partnerships through LIO to collect and improve a range of foundational geospatial data such as land parcels, aerial photography, elevation, roads, and water 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 guides 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. 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 2023–24

  • Revise the Forest Management Planning Manual and the Forest Information Manual and associated technical specifications in support of the Forest Sector Strategy. Key proposed changes include modernizing the process to develop the long-term management direction in a forest management plan, enabling small-scale forest operations (for example, limited harvest and use of forest resources) to support small business and/or community-based forest management initiatives outside of the managed forest, and ensuring the effective and efficient exchange of forest information. This is a multi-year initiative, the targeted effective date for the revised manuals is July 1, 2024.
  • Consider changes and identify opportunities to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of independent forest audits under Ontario’s Independent Forest Audit regulation (Ontario Regulation 319/20 under the Crown Forest Sustainability Act), based on a 2022–23 review of the implementation of the regulation completed by the Ontario Internal Audit Division (OIAD).
  • Develop 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.
  • Represent Ontario’s interests in intergovernmental initiatives such as the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers (CCFM), including involvement in the CCFM Forest in Mind Program.
  • Continue to work with industry to improve and modernize wood measurement practices and policies, explore new technology and concepts, and draft revisions to the Scaling Manual.

6. Fish and wildlife

The Fish and Wildlife Program manages Ontario’s fish and wildlife resources to ensure the sustainability of fish and wildlife populations, and the management of fishing, hunting, and trapping opportunities for the ecological, social, cultural, and economic benefit of Ontarians. 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.

As part of the ministry’s program review cycle, MNRF has completed a review of the Fish and Wildlife Program to identify opportunities for continuous improvement with respect to strategic alignment, value for money and objective achievement.

Key program initiatives in 2023–24

  • Continue to seek feedback from the public and stakeholders on the Fish and Wildlife Licensing Service and explore opportunities for system improvements to address client preferences.
  • Develop and implement a continuous improvement plan in response to the Fish and Wildlife Program Review which identified opportunities for improvement with respect to strategic alignment, coordinated delivery, governance, and accountability. Efforts in 2023–24 will help ensure the program realizes its full potential with respect to delivering value and benefits to Ontarians now and into the future.
  • Continue to manage the Great Lakes fisheries to ensure long-term sustainable economic and social cultural benefits from recreational, commercial, and Indigenous fisheries. This includes working collaboratively with the Saugeen Ojibway Nation and Parks Canada on the Together with Giigoonyag (fishes) research project. The project aims to better understand the health of dikameg (lake whitefish) and other fish species in parts of Lake Huron using a Two-Eyed Seeing Approach that brings together Saugeen Ojibway Nation’s ecological knowledge and western science. The ministry is also working collaboratively with the commercial fishing industry and Indigenous communities to consider options to improve lake whitefish populations in Lake Huron. In addition, the ministry is working with the commercial fish industry to maintain Marine Stewardship Certification of Lake Erie Walleye and Yellow Perch, including work with U.S. Great Lake State partners to monitor and assess the status of walleye and yellow perch populations.
  • Continue to work with the Ontario Commercial Fisheries’ Association, licensed commercial fishers, fish processors and buyers to simplify and streamline licencing, quota management, and reporting processes for the industry. Goals of this project include faster licence renewals and easier harvest reporting.
  • Continue to manage and enhance a strategy for the cage aquaculture industry in the Great Lakes to ensure further economic growth, while balancing environmental and social concerns. This includes implementing 20- year Aquaculture Licences and long-term Crown Land leases, standardized environmental monitoring and licence conditions, and working with Indigenous communities in support of a collaborative approach to responsible management of this industry.
  • Implement changes to Ontario’s trapline allocation policy to improve consistency, clarity and fairness for the management and allocation of vacant registered trapline areas.
  • Continue 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.
  • Implement the ministry’s Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) plan, and legislative and regulatory amendments to support CWD prevention and response.
  • Continue to implement Ontario’s Sustainable Bait Management Strategy which addresses ecological threats and increases protection for Ontario’s vibrant fisheries while minimizing impacts on anglers and increasing business certainty for the commercial industry that relies on bait.
  • Continue to implement the Invasive Species Act and key actions in the Ontario Invasive Species Strategic Plan to protect Ontario’s biodiversity and mitigate the impacts of invasive species to our economy and communities. This includes working closely with partners to monitor, control, and raise awareness about high-risk invasive species such as invasive carp, wild pigs, water soldier, water chestnut, hydrilla and marbled crayfish.
  • Work across the ministry and broader Ontario Public Service to better understand and integrate biodiversity and climate change considerations into policies and programs, including the management of fish and wildlife.

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 include land-use planning, management, and allocation of resources, 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 2023–24

  • Issue and maintain Sustainable Forest Licences to enable the harvest and use of forest resources within a management unit.
  • Continue to implement and improve the ministry’s Natural Resources Information Portal (NRIP), including service delivery modernization for forest management planning, aggregate resource management services, and other natural resource approvals. The new portal makes it easier and faster to exchange mandatory information with the forest and aggregate sectors, reduces costs and risks associated with outdated software, eliminates complex and confusing paper forms, and provides more effective online public engagement and access to natural resource management information. The portal provides a digital first approach and will be the central data repository to store submitted information, which will enable more efficient and cost-effective approval processes for forestry, aggregates, and other resource approvals.
  • Advance economic development through the localized operational delivery of the ministry’s FSS, 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 waterpower industry, while enhancing dam safety.
  • The ministry is investing $23.652 million over three years to continue to lead a whole of government approach towards developing a comprehensive long- term action plan to address risks from legacy oil and gas wells and subsurface gas migration hazard. The plan will help to better identify actions to reduce risks and enhance emergency preparedness and response. The ministry will engage partner agencies, municipalities, sector-stakeholders, indigenous communities, landowners, and the public at key stages during the development of the action plan and its implementation:
    • investments in 2023–24 will focus on the completion of scientific studies and information gathering exercises to support the development of the comprehensive long term action plan, including a risk assessment methodology to better understand the risks that legacy oil and gas wells pose across the landscape and a jurisdictional scan to fully understand how other jurisdictions across the world manage similar issues and how these experiences might be applied in Ontario
    • initiate comprehensive consultation with partner municipalities, Indigenous communities, stakeholders, and the public to ensure that the long-term action plan takes into account the needs of all stakeholders and clients for both today and in anticipation of the future
    • continue working with the Oil and Gas regulated community to increase awareness and understanding of their legislative requirements through promotion and education

8. Natural resources 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 2023–24

  • Develop and deliver messaging and products to increase public awareness of unsafe hunting practices and the factors that increase the likelihood of hunting incidents occurring.
  • Raise awareness of illegal moose hunting through social media communications.
  • Collect information and develop intelligence to inform enforcement actions related to illegal commercialization and trade of Ontario’s natural resources.
  • Enhance reference resources and tools to increase staff awareness of invasive species and their competency in applying relevant legislation and regulation.
  • Work with Indigenous communities through the Collaborative Compliance Initiative to resolve natural resource offences involving Indigenous persons through community-based restorative justice.

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 partners. It also supports the review of economic development opportunities, including all-season roads, transmission corridors and mining development in the Ring of Fire region.

Key program initiatives in 2023–24

  • Continue to implement a joint community-based land use planning process with Far North First Nations. MNRF will focus on supporting joint planning with willing First Nations partners.
  • Continue to support strategic initiatives including 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 & natural 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, oil, gas, salt solution-mining and underground storage 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 Ministry of the Solicitor General and Emergency Management Ontario and other ministries in the delivery of emergency response in Ontario. This includes the aerial evacuation of residents in communities affected by flood or wildland fire.

Key program initiatives in 2023–24

  • As part of the second year of a three-year enhanced investment plan, invest $6.8 million in 2023–24 to protect Ontarians from natural disasters such as wildland fires and floods:
    • continue to support enhanced capacity with critical response staff hiring and new recruitment strategies for fire rangers; explore technology and science (including remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS)) opportunities and begin training using a newly developed wildland fire aerial attack simulator; partner with other experts in fire analytics and modelling to enhance predictive services to assess and mitigate the highest risk to adequately prepare and respond to the growing impacts that wildland fires pose to people, communities, and businesses; establish an indigenous relations and partnerships program and support training of indigenous fire crews, prevention and mitigation capacity within indigenous communities and a new provincial emergency management system for Indigenous communities
    • undertake the second year of a multi-year review of Ontario’s natural resource disaster management programs, including legislation, regulations, policies, practices, and business and technology solutions, to modernize our prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery strategies to meet the needs of Ontario today and long into the future
  • Invest over $5.4 million in creating and updating flood mapping in Ontario under the Flood Hazard Identification and Mapping Program in 2023–2024, providing funding to 37 local partners in support of 52 high-priority projects.
  • Continue to participate and lead collaborative pan-Canadian prevention and mitigation efforts, as well as actively increase public engagement, awareness, and education in Ontario on how property owners, communities and land managers can prepare for and mitigate the risks and adverse impacts of wildland fire; promote the implementation of the FireSmart program, Community Wildfire Protection Planning, and delivery of the FireSmart Communities Transfer Payment incentive program.
  • Continue to use the Initial Attack Success performance measurefootnote 1 as a general indicator of the functioning of the wildland fire response system. The indicator is partially influenced by external factors such as weather and the number and location of fires as well as by the performance of the wildland fire response system. The 95% target is considered a benchmark to measure against and not an operational target.
  • Continue to plan, prepare and respond to wildland fire events and improve the response system by implementing improvements from after action reviews, supporting efforts to explore new mutual aid agreements and implementing approved procurements and capital upgrades.
  • Continue efforts to implement recommendations from the Auditor General’s value for money audit of the Ministry’s emergency response system and support Emergency Management Ontario and other partner ministries with provincial emergency events.
  • Engage Indigenous partners in the planning of collaborative research seeking to understand the impact of wildland fire and wildland fire management practices (for example, decision-making, strategies, processes) on indigenous people and communities to enable the improvement towards more inclusive and culturally representative practices.
  • Provide specialized aviation services in support of MNRF's Natural Hazard Emergency Response, and Natural Resource Management programs. Implement approaches to improve the quality and efficiency of aviation services as part of a continuous improvement initiative.
  • Implement Ontario Low Water Response by working with several ministries and partners to make Ontario more resilient to drought/low water in the long term.
  • Continue to co-manage operation and maintenance of the Ontario Hydrometric network with Environment and Climate Change Canada. Participate in national initiatives for the river and lake water monitoring network to ensure the efficiency and maximum value are achieved for the interests and public safety of Ontarians.

11. Corporate management

The Corporate Management and Information Division 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, French Language Services, and the administration of the Freedom of Information and Privacy Protection Act.

Key program initiatives in 2023–24

  • Continue to support digital improvements to the Freedom of Information (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 and implement organizational changes to support the government’s fiscal commitments and better align workforce capacity with priority outcomes through the development of tools and resources such as an FTE Management Framework.
  • Play a critical role in establishing and supporting the implementation of financial processes and centralized initiatives, such as the further growth of MNRF's risk profile for Enterprise Risk Management and other ongoing horizontal streamlining initiatives across the Ontario Public Service.
  • Lead the ministry’s efforts to create and nurture a respectful, equitable, accessible, diverse, and inclusive (READI) organizational culture and workplace that is anti-racist and free from discrimination and harassment for all employees, through key initiatives such as senior leadership diversification and anti-racism action planning.
  • Lead the ministry’s recovery and renewal efforts including:
    • making Ontario’s programs and frontline services more convenient, more reliable, and more accessible. MNRF has committed to moving from 12% to 100% of services online over 3 years providing clients with information at their fingertips anytime, anywhere and on any device
    • continuing a paper digitization initiative which will make information available digitally to clients and staff who need it
    • continuing to enable the ministry’s workforce with the technology needed to deliver services and support modern working
    • continuing to advance culture change within the ministry promoting modern, flexible, and empowered practices leading to improved employee experience results
  • Service Modernizationfootnote 2:
    • the Service Modernization Program is a multi-year modernization project to move 100% of Ministry approvals online
    • the project is taking an iterative approach to move approvals online and is focusing on high-volume interactions that can be conducted digitally over the next year
    • the project is piloting a client satisfaction survey for the Natural Resources Information Portal (NRIP). By end of this fiscal, results from the survey will inform the exploration of opportunities to increase client satisfaction to 75% (target) when using digital services
  • Lead the External Service Standards (ESS) for the ministryfootnote 3:
    • ESS performance measurement is comprised of 11 Key Performance Indicatorsfootnote 4 (KPIs). Each KPI has its own set target, with an average target of 90%
    • for the last reporting cycle (2021–22), most KPIs met or exceeded the 90% average, however some fell short as COVID–19 related inquiries continued to add to call volumes and service wait times
    • these delays are expected to decrease as users become more familiar with the new online services and as services resume to pre- pandemic conditions

Ministry performance measures and achievements

Ministry performance measures and achievements
Performance measures2020–21 Achievement2021–22 Achievement2022–23 Target2023–24 Target
% of available Crown timber harvested47.3%47.8%52.3%51.6%
% online-self-service/automated registrationsfootnote 596%96%96%96%
% of program compliance rate with the ministry's external service standards76.8%77.7%90%90%
Number of provincial flood messages issued in accordance with predefined climatic and hydrologic criteria971197171
% of initial attack success/effectiveness for wildland fire response90%90%95%95%
% of high-volume services available onlinefootnote 638%43%70%50%
% of high-volume interactions that can be conducted digitallyfootnote 674%81%50%90%
% satisfaction rating for digital servicesfootnote 6Under DevelopmentUnder Development75%75%
% completion of emergency management program legislative requirements100%100%100%100%
% annual increase in Learn to Fish Participants relative to target of 10,000 participants0%41%0%footnote 70%footnote 7
Total number of outdoors cards, fishing and hunting licenses sold1.719 million (medium year)1.479 million (low year)2–2.3 million2–2.3 millionfootnote 8
% annual increase in Ontario's forest industry exports1%16%footnote 92%2%
% variance in spending of approved allocation1.84%0.91%1%1%
Number of lean initiatives completed8426
Number of modernization/program reviews completed117148
Number of staff with lean white belt training428874150footnote 101,000
% of eligible First Nation and Métis communities covered by a resource revenue sharing agreement90%91%100%footnote 11100%footnote 11
% of forest regenerating area assessed that is established94%92%90%90%
% compliance with inspections of petroleum operations46%36%71%53%footnote 12
The number of open geospatial datasets available through GeoHub350385360395
The number of users accessing Ontario GeoHub99,782126,000109,000155,000

Detailed financial information

Ministry planned expenditures 2023–24
Cost typeMinistry planned expendituresfootnote 13 ($M)
Operating757.1
Capital66.1
Total823.2

Ministry distribution of 2023–24 operating expense allocation by vote/item/sub-item

Regional operations

16%

Policy and planning

4%

Forest industry

30%

Land and resources I&IT cluster

4%

Public safety and emergency response

21%

Mapping and geographic information

1%

Fish and wildlife special purpose account

10%

Provincial services, science and research

8%

Ministry administration

5%

Information technology

1%
Ministry planned operating expenditures by vote/item, sub-item 2023–24
Activity nameMinistry planned expenditures ($M)
Fish and wildlife special purpose account75.0
Forest industry227.5
Information technology3.8
Mapping and Geographic Information9.5
Policy and planning32.9
Provincial services, science and research61.8
Public safety and emergency response160.0
Regional operations120.9
Ministry administration35.2
Land and resources I&IT cluster30.4
Total planned expenditures by vote/item/sub-item757.1

Operating and capital summary by vote

Operating expense
Votes/programsEstimates 2023–24 $Changes from 2022–23 estimates $Change %Estimates 2022–23 footnote 14 $Interim actuals 2022–23 footnote 14 $Actuals 2021–22 footnote 14 $
Ministry administration program38,030,000(2,545,700)(6.3)40,575,70039,337,60035,347,920
Natural resource management program375,386,60083,305,00028.5292,081,600320,517,400331,185,957
Public protection171,070,20034,952,10025.7136,118,100134,882,300275,451,640
Land and resources information and information technology cluster program30,911,000197,5000.630,713,50033,083,00032,201,047
Total operating expense to be voted615,397,800115,908,90023.2499,488,900527,820,300674,186,564
Statutory appropriations5,167,014N/AN/A5,167,0144,714,01410,696,698
Ministry total operating expense620,564,814115,908,90023.0504,655,914532,534,314684,883,262
Consolidation adjustment - Algonquin Forest Authority25,990,0001,410,5005.724,579,50017,818,90019,023,758
Consolidation adjustment - forest renewal trust57,088,700400,0000.756,688,70052,288,70053,906,748
Consolidation adjustment - general real estate portfolio(23,093,400)(965,400)N/A(22,128,000)(23,249,000)(24,004,122)
Consolidation adjustment – forestry futures trust1,560,9001,560,900N/AN/AN/AN/A
Consolidation adjustment – collegesN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A(134,335)
Consolidation adjustment – Niagara Parks CommissionN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A(75,000)
Consolidation adjustment - Ontario infrastructure and lands CcrporationN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A(22,840)
Operating expense adjustment - section 15 recoveriesN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A10,410,693
Operating expense adjustment - special purpose accounts for fish and wildlife75,000,000N/AN/A75,000,00072,780,00069,638,792
Total including consolidation & other adjustments757,111,014118,314,90018.5638,796,114652,172,914813,626,956
Operating assets
Votes/programsEstimates 2023–24 $Changes from 2022–23 estimates $Change %Estimates 2022–23 footnote 14 $Interim actuals 2022–23 footnote 14 $Actuals 2021–22 footnote 14 $
Natural resource management program3,967,8001,160,90041.42,806,9004,194,7002,003,961
Public protection46,500N/AN/A46,50054,50046,500
Total operating asset to be voted4,014,3001,160,90040.72,853,4004,249,2002,050,461
Ministry total operating assets4,014,3001,160,90040.72,853,4004,249,2002,050,461
Capital expense
Votes/programsEstimates 2023–24 $Changes from 2022–23 estimates $Change %Estimates 2022–23 footnote 14 $Interim actuals 2022–23 footnote 14 $Actuals 2021–22 footnote 14 $
Natural resource management program33,193,8007,041,50026.926,152,30033,600,500227,275,438
Public protection4,744,800(625,200)(11.6)5,370,0005,521,2003,835,908
Total capital expense to be voted37,938,6006,416,30020.431,522,30038,851,700231,111,346
Statutory appropriations29,688,2002,147,9007.827,540,30021,321,10015,758,448
Ministry total capital expense67,626,8008,564,20014.559,062,60060,172,800246,869,794
Consolidation adjustment - Algonquin Forest Authority110,000(30,000)(21.4)140,00081,200106,568
Capital expense adjustmentN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A(201,673,289)
Consolidation adjustment - General real estate portfolio(1,641,800)1,940,300N/A(3,582,100)(2,303,600)(1,221,944)
Consolidation adjustment - Ontario Infrastructure and Lands CorporationN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A(1,174,433)
Total including consolidation & other adjustments66,095,00010,474,50018.855,620,50057,950,40042,906,696
Capital assets
Votes/programsEstimates 2023–24 $Changes from 2022–23 estimates $Change %Estimates 2022–23 footnote 14 $Interim actuals 2022–23 footnote 14 $Actuals 2021–22 footnote 14 $
Natural resource management program34,457,9004,687,70015.729,770,20034,430,00023,003,194
Public protection27,490,100(2,164,800)(7.3)29,654,90031,839,4005,372,149
Total capital assets to be voted61,948,0002,522,9004.259,425,10066,269,40028,375,343
Ministry total capital assets61,948,0002,522,9004.259,425,10066,469,40028,375,343
Ministry total operating and capital including consolidation and other adjustments (not including assets)823,206,014128,789,40018.5694,416,614710,123,314856,533,652
Historic trend analysis
Historic trend analysis dataActuals 2020–21 footnote 15 $Actuals 2021–22 footnote 15 $Estimates 2022–23 footnote 15 $Estimates 2023–24 footnote 15 $
Ministry total operating and capital including consolidation and other adjustments (not including assets)834,981,917856,533,652694,416,614823,206,014
% changeN/A3%-19%19%

Agencies, boards and commissions

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

  • Responsible for providing 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 Ontario’s 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.

Rabies Advisory Committee

  • Provides scientific advice regarding research and management actions towards the elimination of terrestrial rabies from Ontario, rabies surveillance to detect reoccurrence events, and proactive strategies to prevent the reoccurrence of rabies in Ontario.

Temagami 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 the Temagami Forest management unit.

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.

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 by-laws.

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.

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.

Expenditure and revenue data for agencies, boards and commissions
Name2023–24 Estimates: expenditure $2023–24 Estimates: revenue $2022–23 Interim actuals: expenditure $2022–23 Interim actuals: revenue $2021–22 Actuals: expenditure $2021–22 Actuals: revenue $
Algonquin Forestry Authority26,392,00025,895,00012,527,00011,686,00025,376,43625,282,988
Big Game Management Advisory Committee30,00001,11307,1820
Council of the Association of Ontario Land Surveyors25,00004,595012,3360
Council of the Ontario Professional Foresters Association26,00002,010015,2900
Fish and Wildlife Heritage Commission30,00007,892013,4460
Lake of the Woods Control Board000000
Nawiinginokiima Forest Management Corporation2,256,0004,774,000footnote 164,436,9007,198,8075,952,39912,541,932
Niagara Escarpment Commission3,687,300footnote 1702,001,31202,551,1540
Ontario Geographic Names Board2,475footnote 18070007500
Ottawa River Regulation Planning Board95,918footnote 19090,321065,1790
Rabies Advisory Committee3,000footnote 2002,17501,3500
Temagami Forest Management Corporation2,051,535footnote 213,029,436733,7091,365,509150,2581,267,095

Ministry organization chart

  • Minister – Natural Resources and Forestry
    • Parliamentary Assistant
    • Deputy Minister
      • Legal Services Branch
      • Modernization and Business Improvement Office
      • Communications Services Branch
      • Niagara Escarpment Commission
      • Executive Advisor
      • 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
        • Divisional Support Branch
        • Divisional Delivery Branch
        • Northeast Region
        • Northwest Region
        • Southern Region
      • Land and Resources Cluster
        • Business Partnerships and Planning
        • Digital Solutions
        • Technology Services Operations

Download printer-friendly organizational chart

Appendix: 2022–23 Annual report

2022–23 Resultsfootnote 22

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

  • Ontario is recognized internationally as a leader in wildland fire management and remains committed to preserving and protecting our natural resources. The ministry has a renewed focus on adopting a risk-reduction approach to wildland fire management and supporting a shift to a whole-of-society approach to wildland fire and risk reduction. Ontario is an active partner in the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre led steering committee for the development of the National Strategy for Prevention and Mitigation.
  • In the 2022 fire season, 275 wildland fires were recorded across the province with 2,560 hectares burned, compared to 1,198 fires and 784,465 hectares burned in 2021. This was well below the 10-year average (2012–2021) of 826 fires and 177,775 hectares burned.
  • The Initial Attack Success rate for the 2022 fire season has been calculated at 91.7%. Numerous complex and interdependent environmental (e.g. fire location, weather) and organizational (e.g. available resources or capacity) variables and other situational/seasonal factors influence the result of the Initial Attack Success KPI.
  • Ontario proudly participates in agreements with its provincial, federal, and international partners that allow for the sharing of personnel, equipment, and aircraft between agencies during periods of escalated wildland fire activity.
    • During the 2022 fire season, Ontario deployed:
      • 122 fire management personnel to support fire response efforts in Yukon territory, Manitoba, and Alberta
      • an airtanker package with a total of 9 fire management personnel to the Northwest Territories to support wildland fire suppression activities
      • an Air Attack Officer to Minnesota in October through the Great lakes Forest Fire Compact
  • Part of the Northeast Region experienced an early start to the 2022 fire season.
    • Extreme fire hazard and increased fire activity due to the Timmins 001 fire warranted the implementation of an Emergency Area Order and Implementation Order on May 14, 2022, that restricted travel and access to Crown land within the fire area. This was rescinded on May 25, 2022.
    • Due to the increased fire growth and fire behaviour, approximately 100 residents of Shining Tree were evacuated on May 14, 2022; and safely returned home on May 17, 2022.
  • Leveraged social media and other communication channels to promote public safety, awareness, and compliance to rules for outdoor fires under the Forest Fires Prevention Act, as well as to increase public understanding of wildland fire prevention, fire hazard, wildland fire management and response, and mitigating the risk of loss and damage to properties and values from wildland fire through the FireSmart program.
  • On May 23, 2022, the Ministry Emergency Operation Centre received a Request for Assistance (RFA) from the Provincial Emergency Operation Centre to help the City of Ottawa after being hit by a wind event that caused widespread infrastructure damage. On May 27, 2022, Aviation, Forest Fire Emergency Services (AFFES) dispatched 10 Ontario Fire Ranger crews and six overhead staff to assist with the cleanup. On June 5, 2022, a second contingent of 10 Ranger Crews and seven overhead staff replaced the initial force and continued cleanup operations until June 11, 2022.
  • Throughout May 2022, Fort Frances, Dryden, Red Lake, Kenora and Thunder Bay districts experienced significant precipitation during the annual snow melt which resulted in sharp increases to water levels and flows across the region. AFFES logistical staff assisted MNRF Region and District Offices with the processing of sandbag requests and the delivery of these bags to requested areas. Fire Ranger crews and other AFFES staff from headquarters across the Northwest Region were engaged in flood mitigation and response support.
  • On October 1, 2022, the Ministry Emergency Operation Centre received an RFA from the Provincial Emergency Operation Centre to provide assistance to the Province of Prince Edward Island after being hit by hurricane Fiona that caused widespread infrastructure damage. This was the first RFA from another province that the Branch had ever received. On October 11, 2022, AFFES dispatched 20 Ontario Fire Ranger personnel and six overhead staff to assist with the cleanup. On October 22, 2022, a second contingent of 20 Ranger Crew personnel and six overhead staff replaced the initial force and continued cleanup operations until November 1, 2022.
  • The COVID–19 pandemic introduced many challenges to emergency response planning in the ministry, to ensure the safety of staff, as well as the public. To meet those challenges and mitigate health and safety risks associated with COVID–19, the ministry implemented several emergency procurements and operational measures, including access to or utilization of:
    • enhanced cleaning facility services
    • rapid testing kits
    • personal protective equipment
    • additional accommodations
    • land and air transportation
  • Through the Ontario FireSmart Communities Transfer Payment program, municipalities applied for 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 municipalities were successful in receiving the Transfer Payment grant in 2022.
  • The ministry participated in Operation Remote Immunity by arranging the non- medical transport of teams into communities to deliver and administer COVID–19 vaccines to residents of 32 First Nation communities.
  • MNRF led continued implementation of Protecting People and Property: Ontario’s Flooding Strategy, released in March 2020. The strategy includes commitments from 6 provincial ministries and partners in over 90 initiatives spread across the pillars of emergency management. Highlights are:
    • working with municipalities, conservation authorities, and federal partners to draft two new technical bulletins:
      • data, survey and Mapping Technical Bulletin – to promote consistent mapping techniques across Ontario for identifying hazard areas through recommended data specifications
      • Hydraulics and Hydrology Bulletin – to revise hydrological (flow) and hydraulic (level) modelling to improve the relative accuracy to better understand and characterize the flooding dynamics observed on the ground
    • working with federal partners to launch the Flood Hazard Identification and Mapping Program in Ontario in August of 2022 and working with municipal, conservation authority, and Indigenous community partners to identify high- priority projects for funding over a two-year period (2022–2024)
    • continuation of the province's partnership with the federal government to provide high quality water level and flow information for watercourses across the province, which helps to determine the potential for flooding and aids in the provision of early warning messages for flooding
    • engagement with municipalities, watershed partners and other key stakeholders in Muskoka, Magnetawan and Upper Ottawa River areas on key water management and operational decisions
    • continuation of Ontario's support, through participation on various committees of the International Joint Commission, which contributes to the ongoing management of water levels and flows in the Great Lakes
  • The Surface Water Monitoring Centre:
    • issued 25 flood messages across 4 Districts during the prolonged and severe flood event (April-August) on the Winnipeg River basin in northwestern Ontario. District Offices issued many additional local Flood Warnings to municipalities
    • collaborated with Environment and Climate Change Canada to ensure efficient operations for approximately 600 water monitoring stations at a cost of $4.8 million
    • implemented a project to transmit system alarm notifications to duty officers by Short Messaging System (SMS)
    • designed a process to test the federal National Surface and River Prediction System model outputs for possible application in Ontario
    • finalized the updated Flood Forecasting and Warning Guidelines for Conservation Authorities and the ministry
  • MNRF amended the Conservation Authorities Act as part of Bill 23, the More Homes Build Faster Act, 2022 and passed two supporting regulations, Ontario Regulation 594/22 and Ontario Regulation 596/22 as part of the government’s Housing Supply Action Plan, in order to further focus conservation authorities on their core mandate of keeping people and properties safe from natural hazards, support faster and less costly approvals, streamline conservation authority processes, and help make land suitable for housing available for development.
  • MNRF supported natural hazard management and repairs to flood and erosion control structures by providing $3.845 million in grant funding to the 36 conservation authorities (CAs), plus $5.0 million in capital funding to 29 CAs for water and erosion control infrastructure projects.
  • In response to a serious natural gas explosion in Wheatley, the ministry took immediate action to support the municipality. The ministry engaged expert engineering resources to take over gas monitoring in and around the evacuation zone and perform technical investigations to determine the source of the gas leak, as well as identifying mitigation options. In addition, the ministry established a multi- agency Leadership and Technical Advisory Group with representation from MNRF, Solicitor General (Emergency Management Ontario & Office of the Fire Marshal), Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services, Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks, Ministry of Government and Consumer Services and the municipality of Chatham-Kent to ensure provincial support to both the municipality and affected business and residential communities as a result of the Wheatley emergency.
    • The investigation is complete and had identified three wells in the area of concern where the explosion occurred. All three wells were successfully located, exposed and plugged with the Municipality of Chatham-Kent continuing ongoing and long-term monitoring efforts. The ministry will continue to work collaboratively with the Municipality to support recovery and aid with other efforts.
    • Began implementation of the ministry’s strategy to reduce the risk of subsurface gas migration and legacy wells in Ontario. The strategy will provide tools and emergency response supports for municipalities and increase outreach initiatives for landowners.
  • Developed 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.
  • Engaged other ministries and jurisdictions to help manage Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza and other wildlife diseases, including Chronic Wasting Disease and COVID–19 in wildlife, to protect the health and safety of people and wildlife in Ontario.

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

  • The ministry provided fishing and hunting opportunities to approximately 1.5 million Outdoors Card holders generating an estimated $64 million in licence sales.
  • Launched an online hunter education course which satisfies the increasing demand from clients for online options and improved service delivery processes. An instructor-led course is also available for clients who prefer to learn in-person or who do not have access to the internet.
  • Trained approximately 20,000 new hunters through the Ontario Hunter Education Program, generating over $600,000 in revenue.
  • Issued more than 8,000 trapping licences and trained more than 260 new trappers, generating over $250,000 in revenue.
  • Conducted a designed survey of Ontario licensed trappers to gather information from clients on their trapping activities, expenditures, and matters related to furbearing mammal management across the province to better inform program decision making.
  • Provided 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 licence issuer network. In 2022, the Natural Resources Information and Support Centre (NRISC) handled approximately 83,000 calls and 21,500 email inquiries related to fishing, hunting and/or licencing in Ontario.
  • Launched a new online white-tailed deer hunting seasons mapping tool to modernize service delivery and enhance client satisfaction.
  • In response to feedback from hunters, implemented a new administrative penalty approach for hunter reporting to improve data collection and response rates to support sustainable wildlife management.
  • Provided approximately 8 million fish, weighing 175 tonnes, for stocking into 1,187 waterbodies in 2022. The nine provincial fish culture stations grow 26 unique strains of 11 different fish species to support population re-habilitation and to create and enhance angling opportunities. In addition, over three million fertilized fish eggs or fry (newly hatched fish) were supplied to community and classroom hatchery partners for eventual stocking into public waters.
  • Ministry conservation officers contacted over 115,000 members of the public while on duty. During these contacts with the public, educational messaging pertaining to safe and sustainable natural resource use was relayed as appropriate.
  • As part of the Collaborative Compliance Initiative with Indigenous communities, the ministry’s Enforcement Branch has successfully completed 8 restorative justice cases to date and is anticipating at minimum another 8 cases to be completed by the end of March 2023.
  • Leveraged social media and other communication channels to promote public safety and compliance with Ontario’s natural resource laws. Social media videos were released promoting safe hunting on topics such as shooting at night and shooting big game from vessels. Enforcement careers were also highlighted through a video about recent Conservation Officer recruitment achievements.
  • 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 517 cases of raccoon strain rabies (23 in 2022) and 21 cases of fox strain rabies (no new cases since 2018) confirmed in southern Ontario. In response, over 8 million oral rabies vaccine baits (729,741 in 2022), which help immunize most raccoons, skunks and foxes that eat them have been distributed.
  • Distributed 729,741 rabies vaccine baits, tested 4,600 samples for rabies, and vaccinated over 2,000 raccoons and skunks by hand through the trap-vaccinate- release program. Raccoon and fox strain rabies cases in the province declined by approximately 95% since 2016.
  • Conducted Broad-scale Monitoring on 102 inland lakes provincially, and focused monitoring on six Provincially Significant Inland Fisheries, including Lake of the Woods, Winnipeg River, Ottawa River, Tri-Lakes, Lake Simcoe, and Lake Nipissing.
  • Collected fees including rent from 11,000 tenants who occupy Crown land for a range of purposes, including those related to aggregates, land rentals/sales and renewable energy, generating approximately $106.3 million in revenue up to December 31, 2021.
  • Provided 1,319 Crown Patents records to clients from April 1, 2022, to January 31, 2023.
  • Served more than 485 Ontario Wood 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.
  • Provided services to the forest industry and to communities through the implementation of the Forest Sector Strategy (FSS). Examples include:
    • convened multi-ministry (federal and provincial) discussions with 28 Indigenous communities, 6 First Nation organizations, 1 Metis community, and 1 Metis organization, bringing together potential funding and support partners to provide assistance to communities contemplating a forestry or biomass related project for their community
    • proactively lobbied with provincial and federal partners to mitigate trade barriers resulting in the removal of Canadian boreal forests from the New York deforestation bill and helped raise awareness of Ontario’s robust sustainable forest management practices
    • worked with the Ministry of Transportation in developing a Cross- Government Connected and Automated Vehicles Plan to enable the use of new innovative technology to address labour shortages in the forest sector and to promote the industry of the future
    • worked with Ministry of Education, non-profit organizations and local schools to provide forest educational resources and promote career pathways in the forest sector
  • Enhanced Ontario’s forest policy framework to modernize and digitize service delivery and support the FSS. Engaging with Indigenous communities and stakeholders as well as clients, professionals, and the public is helping to reduce burden to the forest industry and streamline processes for clients while providing for forest sustainability and a high standard for professional forestry. Changes include:
    • supported implementation of new rules and regulations under the Crown Forest Sustainability Act that make it easier for the public to responsibly harvest Crown forest resources for certain types of personal use, such as gathering for a campfire or cutting branches for decorative purposes. In addition, developed new short form wordings to enable the use of tickets to promote compliance of regulations for personal use harvest
    • collaborated with the Ontario Internal Audit Division to investigate opportunities to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of independent forest audits under Ontario’s Independent Forest Audit regulation (Ontario Regulation 319/20 under the Crown Forest Sustainability Act)
    • supported activities of the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers to share information on the sustainable management of Ontario’s forests
  • The ministry is the provincial lead for the Eastern Habitat Joint Venture (EHJV), a collaborative partnership of government and non-government organizations working together across Canada to conserve wetlands and other habitats that are important for waterfowl and migratory birds. Projects implemented by the EHJV support the goals and objectives of the North American Wetland Conservation Act and the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. The ministry signed a 3-year transfer payment agreement with Ducks Unlimited Canada for $455,000 per year over the next 3 years, for a total of $1.36 million, to support wetland conservation initiatives in Ontario, including the EHJV.
  • Received and considered 21 name proposals from members of the public for geographic features, 3 deferrals, 10 new (unprocessed), and 4 pending consultation input.
    • 2 recommendations are in the process of being finalized for island names for 911 addressing to assist with emergency response.
  • Published 9 new datasets to the Ontario Data catalogue and updated 40 datasets in the Ontario Data catalogue, including moving 3 data sets from restricted access to open access.
  • Responded to over 12,000 inquiries about Ontario’s geospatial data and mapping services and products.
  • Published 5 themed social media campaigns for a range of topics including Geography Awareness Week, Open Data Day, and Geographic Names consultations. High engagement rates on over 40 posts across the ministry’s Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn platforms, including one LinkedIn post reaching over 17,900 people.
  • MNRF processes more than 215 additional approval types to more than 45,500 clients resulting in more than 81,000 interactions annually. At present:
    • 154 approval types are paper based (down from 178 last fiscal)
    • 61 approval types are available online
  • Developed and implemented a multi-faceted user research program to ensure digital channels meet client needs, engaging over 100 clients and 150 front-line staff to assess over 40 individual licences, permits and authorizations.
  • Provided clients the ability to apply for and pay for permits online.
  • Made it easier for clients to receive necessary approvals by allowing consultants to act as authorized representatives and fill applications on their behalf.
  • Increased online 24–7 access to a total of 30% of approvals providing clients access to online licences, permits and authorizations. Expanded digital channels to include 6 new approvals providing up to 2200 clients new streamlined approval services with status tracking.
  • The Service Modernization Program is a multi-year modernization project to move 100% of ministry approvals online. The project is using an agile implementation model and prioritization of high-volume approvals to meet its targets by March 2024. A client satisfaction survey implemented in 2023 will support tracking and reporting to meet the 75% client satisfaction target when using digital services.
  • External Service Standards performance measurement is comprised of 11 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), each having their own set target.
    • For the last reporting cycle (2021–22), most KPIs met or exceeded the 90% average, however some fell short as COVID–19 related calls continued to add to call volumes and service wait times.
    • The easing of public health measures and border crossing requirements contributed to questions from the public and non-Ontario residents looking to return to the province to participate in fishing and hunting and other outdoor recreational activity.
    • Higher than average call lengths and wait times are largely attributed to clients requiring support with the ministry’s online licencing service.
    • These delays are expected to decrease as users become more familiar with the new online services and as services resume to pre-pandemic conditions.

Key activity 3: Promote economic growth and job creation

  • The ministry continues to reduce unnecessary duplication and streamline processes to support economic development across Ontario, while responsibly managing natural resources. The Far North Act was amended to encourage collaboration between Ontario and First Nations on land use planning, enhance economic development opportunities for First Nations and foster economic growth in the Far North, while maintaining critical cultural and environmental protections, and respecting Aboriginal and treaty rights. To improve service delivery and save people time when harvesting wood from Crown lands for personal use (for example, small building projects, landscaping and home heating), the ministry made changes under the Crown Forest Sustainability Act, 1994. Overall, the ministry has reduced regulatory compliance requirements by 18% and reduced direct costs to business by approximately $3 million since 2019.
  • Led the delivery of the Forest Sector Investment and Innovation Program (FSIIP, previously called the Forestry Growth Fund), in cooperation with the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade (MEDJCT). FSIIP provides up to $10 million per year for strategic investments in the forestry sector that: improve productivity and innovation; enhance competitiveness; support new market access; strengthen regional economies; and provide benefits to Ontario’s broader forest sector (that is, beyond the direct benefits to the Applicant). Since established, the program has approved $97 million in funding to leverage almost $700 million in new investment, creating approximately 550 new jobs and helping to retain 2,900 existing jobs. The program approved over $12 million in funding for four projects, leveraging $77 million in new investment, creating 147 new jobs, and helping to retain another 411 jobs.
  • Through the Provincial Forest Access Roads Funding Program, the Ministry supports the construction and maintenance of public access roads in Crown forests that benefit many resource users including the forest industry, mining, utility and railway companies, hunters, trappers, cottagers, Indigenous communities and the general public. These roads also provide part of the rural infrastructure for emergency preparedness and response. On average, over 18,700 kilometres of primary and branch roads are maintained by the forest industry each year. Additionally, over 800 kilometres of new primary and branch roads are constructed each year. $53.2 million will be provided in 2022–23. Since the program was launched in 2005, it has provided over $1 billion in funding.
  • Ontario shares resource revenue with Indigenous communities to support reconciliation by enabling Indigenous communities to share in the economic benefits of aggregates, forestry and mining developments. In 2022, the Resource Revenue Sharing (RRS) initiative expanded as:
    • negotiation on five new RRS Agreements with Indigenous partners concluded
    • royalties from aggregate operations were included in existing agreements
    • Ontario currently has eight RRS Agreements - six agreements representing 40 First Nation communities, and two agreements with organizations representing Métis communities. In 2022, Ontario shared $100.6 million with participating First Nations which included the first payments under the new Agreements - who may allocate RRS funds towards key priorities that support economic development, education, health, community development and cultural development
  • In the ongoing softwood lumber trade dispute between Canada and the United States, the ministry maintained its strong legal position, provided advocacy on trade issues specific to Ontario’s softwood lumber industry, and enhanced working relationships with the federal government, other provinces, and industry.
    • MNRF continued to work closely with Ontario’s in-house and U.S. trade law counsel teams to support litigation efforts by thorough review of all materials prepared for submission to US authorities.
    • MNRF participated in regular discussions with the federal government, both formal meetings and informal conversations, to advance Ontario’s interests in the dispute. The ministry also collaborated with trade teams of other provinces who have a softwood lumber industry.
    • MNRF hosted 28 Teams meetings and one face-to-face meeting with Ontario’s softwood lumber industry group.
  • The ministry supported an increase in domestic consumption through the Ontario Wood brand. Ontario Wood aims to provide consumers with a strong sense (that is, 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.
  • Modernized scaler licencing and training by:
    • establishing a tiered scaler licensing system to reduce burden on forestry industry in Northern Ontario
    • developing online provincial scaling course modules and for the second year, delivering the classroom portion of the annual Provincial Scaling Course virtually using the new approach
  • Through implementation of the FSS, the Ontario government and the forest industry, along with partners in the research and education sector, Indigenous communities, and other levels of government, are working to 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.
  • Through the implementation of the FSS, the ministry has:
    • finalized and released the final Forest Biomass Action Plan (FBAP) to explore innovative uses of forest biomass and stimulate the creation of jobs in the bioeconomy
    • continued to lead delivery of the FSIIP in partnership with MEDJCT, as described above
    • provided funding for eight project proposals in collaboration with Indigenous communities to help support their forestry related projects
    • collaborated with external forest sector partners through transfer payment agreements to carry out projects that seek to improve forest industry efficiencies in putting more wood to work, identifying innovation opportunities for technologies and processes, and shifting Ontario’s building sector towards more cost and time effective strategies using wood for non-traditional projects
    • completed public roll-out of a free online buildings carbon calculator tool (www.GHGMAT.ca) to support building design and procurement in assessing and accounting for the carbon footprint of structural building materials, highlighting the carbon benefit of wood construction
    • completed the development of a mass timber fabrication business case for Ontario and supported its presentation to numerous industry stakeholders to encourage investment in Ontario’s mass timber manufacturing sector
    • supported the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing in amending the Ontario Building Code to increase the allowable height of wood buildings from 6-storeys to 12-storeys
    • engaged with fire services, municipal building officials and the insurance industry through the hosting of a full-scale mass timber demonstration fire test to demonstrate the high level of fire safety offered by mass timber
    • developed and disseminated multiple technical guides and case studies supporting building sector stakeholders in utilizing mass timber and other wood-based building materials
  • In response to industry interests in geologic carbon storage as a tool to manage emissions, the ministry proposed amendments to remove the prohibition of carbon storage from the Oil, Gas and Salt Resources Act, as a first step towards enabling the activity. Concurrently, a roadmap outlining Ontario’s plan to regulate geologic carbon storage through a phased approach was developed and shared publicly on Ontario.ca.

Key activity 4: Conduct monitoring, research, and planning

  • Collaborated with multiple provincial and federal government agencies and partners to conduct SARS–CoV–2, the virus that causes COVID–19, surveillance in certain wildlife species and contributed to the development of wildlife handling recommendations when working in the field.
  • Conducted applied forest research and published research results to support resource management decision-making regarding climatic effects on forests, beech leaf disease, forest management, seed transfer, forest regeneration and wood product carbon sequestration.
  • The Fish and Wildlife program continued to implement a number of key initiatives and changes, which included:
    • Ontario’s Sustainable Bait Management Strategy, reducing the ecological risks associated with using and moving bait while providing transparency and certainty to support a sustainable bait industry
    • Ontario’s Chronic Wasting Disease Prevention and Response Plan, including a test demonstration of the response action plan
    • regulatory changes to support hunting and trapping, including modernizing deer seasons, and changes to support the International Agreement on Humane Trapping Standards
    • support for the Resource Based Tourism Sector impacted by COVID–19 by providing certain Crown land fee and rent relief in 2022
  • Sampled 102 of Ontario’s inland lakes as part of the ministry’s broad-scale monitoring program to describe status and trends of fish species important to recreational, commercial and subsistence fisheries. Focused monitoring was also conducted on provincially significant inland fisheries, including Lake of the Woods, Winnipeg River, Ottawa River, Tri-Lakes, Lake Simcoe and Lake Nipissing. Recreational angler creel surveys were conducted on Lake Nipissing, Lake Simcoe, Winnipeg River and the Tri-Lakes to help understand fishing pressure and catch.
  • Conducted science development projects to support continuous improvement of provincial monitoring methods, including brook trout monitoring on a small urban stream, fish community net calibration, aerial/roving creel calibration, digital data capture for creels, phytoplankton sampling, and environmental DNA (eDNA) monitoring.
  • Continued to provide science advice and deliver applied research through the pandemic in support of the ministry’s efforts to sustainably manage Ontario’s fisheries and water resources. Highlights include work to model the future spread of invasive species based on population growth and likely pathways of spread, as well as modeling the impacts of climate change on aquatic ecosystems to inform future fisheries management decisions and policy.
  • The Lake Ontario Management Unit participated in the lake-wide spring prey fish survey in partnership with New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the United States Geological Survey Oswego Research Station. The lake wide survey provides vital information on the status of prey fish that informs bi-national fish stocking levels, which helps maintain the world class trout and salmon fishery. Results of the 2022 survey show a lake wide increase in prey fish abundance, which supported a binational decision to increase Chinook stocking levels in 2023.
  • The Lake Ontario Management Unit and the Quebec Ministère des Ressources naturelles et des Forêts integrated the Lake St. Francis fisheries assessment program. In 2022, staff from MNRF and Quebec worked collaboratively to deliver the first whole lake fish population assessment for Lake St. Francis.
  • The Upper Great Lakes Management Unit completed independent offshore fish community index surveys on both Lake Huron and Lake Superior to inform the setting of commercial fish quotas on both lakes.
  • The Lake Erie Management Unit completed a series of annual programs (for example, commercial catch sampling, juvenile fish index surveys, partnership survey with the Ontario Commercial Fisheries' Association) that assess fish population abundance and describe commercial fishery landings to support the bi-national management of Lake Erie fisheries. In conjunction with our U.S. partners, these programs provide the basis for annual population modeling and quota decisions for Lake Erie’s multi- million dollar commercial and recreational fisheries for Walleye, Yellow Perch, and Lake Whitefish.
  • The forest health monitoring program identified 132,724 hectares of forest defoliated by jack pine budworm in Northwestern Ontario and 2,029,039 hectares of forest defoliated by spruce budworm in Northeastern Ontario and identified 59,031 hectares of forest defoliated by spongy moth (formerly Lymantria dispar dispar (LDD) or gypsy moth), primarily in southern Ontario. Provided forecasts on potential spongy moth impacts for spring 2023 and additional information to help the public and other private landowners determine how to best manage spongy moth infestations.
    • The 2022–23 Insect Pest Management Program for spruce budworm adopted a 2x application of insecticide of 197,280 hectares targeting high value/priority stands. A 2x application is considered standard practice across other jurisdictions where spruce budworm populations are high. MNRF is currently assessing the pre-treatment / post-treatment population surveys for spruce budworm to determine the efficacy of the biological insecticide treatment. These results will aid in the further refinement of the spray program for Year 3 and Year 4.
  • Re-measured or established new long-term provincial growth and yield plots (for example, Permanent Sample Plots, Permanent Growth Plots, and stem analysis plots) which are used to provide up-to-date information to support wood supply analysis and forest management planning.
  • Established and measured a Vegetation Sampling Network (VSN) to calibrate the new LiDAR-based Forest Resource Inventory, as well as provide quality assurance/quality control of provincial contractors establishing VSN plots for the ministry.
  • Reviewed and provided recommendations to improve delivery of the moose aerial inventory and streamline the moose tag allocation process. Implementation of these recommendations began in 2023 and will continue in 2023–24.
  • Ongoing work with deer hunters to conduct comprehensive Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) monitoring in eastern Ontario in response to the detection of CWD on a game farm in Quebec., Three surveillance zones, one in eastern Ontario, one in southern Ontario, and one in southwestern Ontario, were monitored for CWD. To date, the disease has not been detected in any sample.
  • Supported a number of forestry-related research projects. such as Sustainable Growth: Ontario’s Forest Sector Strategy, the Forest Biomass Action Plan, and the Made-In-Ontario Environment Plan. Project examples include:
    • increasing wood use through the bioeconomy (CRIBE 30:30)
    • producing green steel using forest biomass (Algoma Steel collaboration)
    • supporting innovation in wood construction and expanding provisions for wood use in building codes and standards (Canadian Wood Construction Research Network)
    • integrating forest simulation across scales for improved silviculture effectiveness (Canadian Institute of Forestry)
    • enhancing economic returns from jack pine plantations (Superior Wood Tree Improvement Association)
    • studying wood quality in commercially thinned black spruce plantations (Lakehead University)

Key activity 5: Develop legislation, policies and implement programs

  • In response to the impacts of COVID–19, the ministry supported the resource-based tourism sector by providing financial relief through waiving and refunding Crown land fees and rents again in 2022 (for example, bear hunting and baitfish fees and licences, land use fees for Commercial Outpost Camps permits or leases). Since 2020, This provided approximately $4.1 million in financial relief to the sector to support their recovery.
  • The ministry posted a bulletin on the Environmental Registry to engage the public on the use of floating accommodations between March and April 2022. The bulletin posed a series of questions about floating accommodations and invited the public, stakeholders, municipalities and Indigenous communities and organizations to share their perspectives. Over 400 comments were received, and 12 Information sessions were hosted virtually.
  • To support the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing in the adjustments to the Greenbelt boundary to enable housing supply, the MNRF proposed legislation to repeal the Duffins Rouge Agricultural Preserve Act, 2005 (DRAPA). The DRAPA Repeal Act was a schedule in the Better Municipal Governance Act, 2022 which received Royal Assent on December 8, 2022.
  • In support of the Ontario Housing Supply Action Plan, the ministry updated how Ontario evaluates wetlands. Changes to the Ontario Wetland Evaluation System focused on removing duplicative requirements and streamlining the evaluation process to provide clarity on how significant wetlands are evaluated and identified in the province.
  • Consulted publicly on proposed regulatory changes for the beneficial reuse of excess soil at pits and quarries in Ontario. These changes were proposed to provide consistency with the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks’ requirements for excess soil under the Environmental Protection Act.
  • Developed and implemented a $4.5 million work plan, making progress on commitments under the bi-national Canada-Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health.
  • Collaborated with Canadian jurisdictions on fisheries and aquaculture opportunities through the Canadian Council of Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministers ensuring Ontario’s fisheries and aquaculture are reflected.
  • As part of ongoing efforts to implement the Invasive Species Act, MNRF worked with partners to raise awareness and educate the public about newly regulated invasive species, with particular focus on preventing the spread of invasive species through the movement of watercraft. Additionally, MNRF worked to implement the Strategy to address the threat of invasive wild pigs and supported the development and implementation the Invasive Wild Pig Response Action Plan. This plan resulted in the removal of 16 invasive wild pigs from the natural environment.
  • Worked collaboratively with other jurisdictions and partners to support development and finalization of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.
  • Continued to prioritize the good stewardship of Crown land, ensuring fair return to the Crown by implementing annual indexation of administrative fees.
  • Delivered legislated tax incentive programs and stewardship granting programs for landowners, stakeholders, and partners, including Indigenous organizations and individuals.
    • The Canada Ontario Resource Development Agreement (CORDA) provided $467,500 in funding to 30 First Nation communities to support trapping, natural resource management, traditional land-based activities and conservation in Ontario.
    • For the 2022 tax year, more than 25,500 properties received a property tax exemption under CLTIP, protecting 765,000 acres (310,000 hectares), and 20,100 properties were enrolled in the MFTIP, promoting good forestry practices on 1,922,000 acres (778,000 hectares).
  • Continued to engage key dam industry stakeholders through the 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.
  • Developed new short form wordings under the Provincial Offences Act, and established set fines to enable the use of tickets to promote compliance of regulations for personal use harvest.
  • Continued to work collaboratively with the Forestry Futures Committee, an independent committee appointed by the Minister, to deliver the objectives of the Forestry Futures Trust. Committee members administer programs with a focus on supporting silviculture projects, forest genetics management, Independent Forest Audits, tenure modernization, an enhanced forest inventory program, and scientific memberships.
  • Completed an internal review of both the Forestry Futures Trust and Forest Renewal Trust and confirmed the value they provide to Ontario.
  • MNRF chaired the working group for the Forest In Mind Program and supported the activities of the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers with participation in national and international events to collaborate on issues impacting trade and market access, respond to global trends, and share information on the sustainable management of Ontario's forests.
  • Collaborated with Canadian jurisdictions on forestry opportunities through the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers to help address issues like environmental reputation, Indigenous relations, forest pests, climate change, and forest fire management.
  • 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.
  • Continued support of 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.
  • Collaborated with industry partners to prepare 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.
  • Continued to lead projects within the OPS, the broader public service and private sector to acquire aerial photography. This collaboration achieved cost savings for participants and ensured the data is accessible. The program released an additional 200,000 square kilometres of new imagery internally to the OPS and 300,000 square kilometres of older imagery to the public, which has previously only been available to the OPS, through internet mapping services.
  • Provided public access to more than 350 open data sets, plus thousands of associated and derived datasets through Ontario GeoHub, a data discovery and access tool that allows users to download or stream the data they need.
  • Maintained key foundation geospatial data sets including over 260,000 kilometers of roads and over 75,000 square kilometers of water.
  • Partnered with all levels of government, First Nations, the private sector, and other organizations to acquire 42,000 square kilometers of aerial photography from Sault Ste. Marie, west to the Manitoba border and north to Geraldton.
  • 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.
  • Supported the Geographic Names Board’s consideration of 21 name proposals.
  • The Digital Ready Workplace initiative has increased the IT network speed and capacity in 29 MNRF worksites, with another 39 sites still in progress, allowing faster and more efficient use of OPS and Ministry applications, allowing the ministry to provide simpler, faster, and better services to Ontarians.
  • Implemented year 2 of the paper records digitization project, completing 17 digitization projects across 12 program areas which now provide access to 2,000,000 newly digitized records for clients and staff who need it. Approximately 16–20 projects are estimated to be completed in 2023–24.
  • Automated approvals for low-risk activities to streamline Licences to Collect Fish for Scientific Purposes approvals for municipalities and developers benefitting approximately 400 clients annually and saving approximately 1,200 hours of ministry time per year.
Ministry interim actual expenditures 2022–23
Cost typeMinistry interim actual expenditures ($M) 2022–23 footnote 23
Operating expense652.9
Capital expense59.3
Total expense712.2
Staff Strengthfootnote 24 (as of March 31, 2023)3,103

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
Tel: 416-314-2301

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

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