Liberal cabinet minister David Orazietti is resigning from provincial politics, setting the stage for a byelection in his northern Ontario riding about a year before the next general election.
The Community Safety and Correctional Services minister made the announcement in his Sault Ste. Marie riding Friday, saying he is leaving for family reasons.
"A career in politics comes with many sacrifices -- for me, that has meant missing many family events and important milestones in my children's lives," said the father of two children.
"As time goes on, it has become increasingly difficult for me to make these sacrifices and be away from home. My wife Jane, our children and our extended family have been incredibly supportive and understanding of the commitment that political life brings. After spending over a decade serving our community at Queen's Park, it is time for me, and my family, to start a new chapter in our lives."
Orazietti's resignation from cabinet is effective immediately, with Premier Kathleen Wynne appointing Labour Minister Kevin Flynn to temporarily handle the corrections file. Orazietti will stay on as MPP for Sault Ste. Marie until the end of the month.
Orazietti was first elected in 2003, and has also served as Government and Consumer Services minister and Natural Resources minister.
Wynne was first elected to the Ontario legislature at the same time as Orazietti, and she said he has been a strong voice for northern Ontario at the cabinet table.
"I quickly came to appreciate his passionate, activist approach to making a positive difference in people's lives," she said in a statement.
Wynne said that while Orazietti will be missed at the legislature, she is glad his decision means he will be able to spend more time with his family.
"Public service is a great honour, but it is not without sacrifice," she wrote. "Particularly for members who travel great distances to be at Queen's Park, the time away from family is hard."
The premier will have to call a byelection for Sault Ste. Marie within the next six months. The riding was held by the NDP before Orazietti's win in 2003, and a byelection roughly a year before the provincial election in June 2018 could be an interesting race, amid plummeting popularity ratings for the premier.
Orazietti took on the corrections file in June, at a time of increasing public scrutiny and anger over solitary confinement practices. He had to answer for the treatment of Adam Capay, an inmate held in segregation for four years in Thunder Bay. Orazietti recently announced he had tapped federal correctional investigator Howard Sapers to lead a provincial review into the use of segregation.
Just one day before his resignation, Orazietti announced the province was hiring more corrections staff, including officers, nurses, psychologists and segregation managers in an attempt to address issues with solitary confinement and inmates with mental-health challenges.
A former high school teacher, Orazietti first jumped into politics at the local level, serving as a city councillor for two terms.
Several of Wynne's cabinet ministers stepped down this summer when house prorogued.
Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur left politics altogether, while Seniors Minister Mario Sergio, Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Ted McMeekin and cabinet chair Jim Bradley resigned from cabinet.