THUNDER BAY -- Bill Mauro is taking his new post seriously.
The Liberal MPP for Thunder Bay-Atikokan was named to Premier Kathleen Wynne's cabinet Tuesday as the Minister of Natural Resources, a portfolio that includes forestry.
Mauro said forestry is a key component of the ministry and much of its role in the industry is to foster economic development.
"Here in the North, our economy in Thunder Bay and region has been very, very good for three, four, five years. The forestry piece obviously still has room to grow, much of that growth is not determined by what the ministry does," he said.
Factors like global demand for products drive the industry, but Mauro said the ministry has a role to play ensuring they are present and ready to help companies looking to set up shop.
And Mauro said there is good news in the forestry sector with the increase of housing starts in the U.S.
It bodes well for the region's sawmill industry, he said.
"It's not where it was pre-2006, but it's moving in a positive direction."
Mauro returns to Queen's Park next week when the legislature resumes. He said the party's first priorities are the Throne Speech and the introduction of the budget.
In March, Mauro was named the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing after Linda Jeffrey stepped down.
Northwestern Ontario now has two ministers in the provincial cabinet as Thunder Bay-Superior North MPP Michael Gravelle will keep the Northern Development and Mines portfolio.