In late June, the Ontario government announced a cabinet shuffle that resulted in profound changes for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.
Out went incumbent minister John Yakabuski and in came Greg Rickford, MPP for Kenora Rainy-River. But it wasn’t a straight swap. While Minister Yakabuski had a singular portfolio with a sole focus on natural resources and forestry, Minister Rickford’s new portfolio is quite a bit bigger and merges multiple ministries together as one. Rickford now owns the title of Minister of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry, and Minister of Indigenous Affairs.
The OFAH has enjoyed a long-standing and strong working relationship with previous iterations of the MNRF as partners in conservation programming like Ontario’s Invading Species Awareness Program and the Community Hatchery Program, just to name a couple. We’ve also worked as a primary stakeholder in countless resource policy discussions over the years and we look forward to continuing this with the new Minister and his staff.
In saying that, these changes certainly bring with them some questions and potential concerns.
Since June’s cabinet shuffle, the OFAH has been hearing from concerned anglers and hunters about the changes now that the MNRF they know has been blended with other ministries. The most common question asked? Will these changes further relegate natural resources down the government’s priority list?
The short – and honest — answer right now on that is we don’t know.
Without much detail about the merger and its long-term impacts, we remain cautiously optimistic that the stated intent that ‘this new northern and economic focused ministry will enhance development potential and sustainability in the North’ can support the growth potential for fishing and hunting throughout the entire province. Fishing and hunting can contribute to a triple bottom line of social, environmental, and economic growth in Ontario, but it requires focused attention and investment that has been lacking.
Especially now in the face of a post-pandemic recovery in Ontario. We’re starting to see the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel, and fishing and hunting can be a significant part of the economic engine that will assist in paving the path forward.
We recently shared these thoughts and more with Minister Rickford through a letter from our Executive Director, Angelo Lombardo. CLICK the images below to read more.