TORONTO -- In a government stacked with political veterans, Jim Wilson stood out.

As a prominent member of Ontario Premier Doug Ford's new Progressive Conservative regime, Wilson's bona fides and decades of experience secured him the status of both a senior statesman and steadying influence.

Observers expect that legacy will remain despite Wilson's sudden departure Friday from both cabinet and caucus to deal with what the premier's office described as addiction issues.

Ford's office issued a statement on Monday saying the 55-year-old legislator had entered a treatment facility but offered few other details. Wilson's office has not responded to requests for comment.

The former minister of economic development, job creation and trade was one of the most seasoned members of Ford's cabinet team, having served in the provincial legislature for 28 years.

He maintained a relatively prominent status within the party throughout that lengthy tenure, holding a variety of cabinet positions during the Tories' years in power and key leadership roles during their time in opposition.

Wilson first came to the legislature as one of just 20 Tory legislators voted in during the 1990 election that saw Bob Rae and the NDP form government.

The next election, however, saw Wilson move from third-party critic to one of Premier Mike Harris' top lieutenants. Wilson served as Harris' health minister for about two years before being shuffled to the energy, science and technology portfolio, a post he held until 2002.

Once Ernie Eves took over the party helm, Wilson remained in cabinet with brief stints as minister of northern development and mines as well as environment minister.

Wilson remained active in the party during the 15 years of Liberal reign that began with the 2003 election, serving two stints as party house leader and even stepping in as the party's interim leader during the months between Tim Hudak's 2014 departure and Patrick Brown's successful leadership bid in 2015.

McMaster University political science professor Peter Graefe said Wilson was largely seen as a safe, steady pair of hands. His departure represents a potential setback to Ford's administration, Graefe said.

"His loss is a loss of probably one of the more steadying influences within the Conservative party," Graefe said, adding Wilson's time as house leader gave him experience working with other parties.

"I think his departure will be significant ... in terms of losing one potential anchor and one way of trying to reconcile a fairly bombastic performance by the Premier. One of the features that could have filed down some of the sharper edges of that has certainly disappeared with this event."

Graefe said any addiction issues Wilson may be contending with likely won't do any lasting damage to his image and legacy, noting that politicians have successfully rebounded and relaunched their careers after similar struggles.

"To step down in this kind of circumstance as opposed to others is almost a footnote," Graefe said. "It'll maybe be remembered by some people who like to throw mud, but if that was the reason, it's not an uncommon one in politics."

A number of Wilson's colleagues have wished him well, with some highlighting his years of public life.

"Jim Wilson has been my friend for 13 years and was my seatmate for many years. I hope he gets the help and peace he deserves," Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod wrote on Twitter on Friday. "I thank him for 30 years of service and for being our interim leader in the last parliament."