POLITICS

New Brunswick Tories warn Liberal budget cuts will go too deep, affect jobs

02/10/2015 04:00 EST | Updated 04/11/2015 05:59 EDT
FREDERICTON - New Brunswick's Liberal government is being accused by the Opposition of looking to cut spending too deeply and putting job creation at risk as a result.

Bruce Fitch, the Progressive Conservatives' interim leader, used the first question period of the spring session of the legislature Tuesday to criticize the government's cost-cutting goals.

During last year's election, he said the Liberals talked about cutting $250 million and now they need to find $600 million in savings.

"We have seen how that reduction of government spending can have an effect on the economy," Fitch said.

He said those kinds of cuts go against the government's intention to create jobs.

"You have trimming the fat, then you have cutting so deep that it's cutting the bone or the arm right off," he said.

Fitch said the Liberals are using public budget consultation meetings as a way to justify their intentions.

But Finance Minister Roger Melanson said the public wants the government to get its finances in order.

"If we keep adding to the net debt $400 million average per year, we can't sustain that. We need to be able to fix this once and for all," Melanson said.

The government will make some tough decisions in the Liberals' first budget this spring, but the toughest decisions will be made a year later, he added.

Premier Brian Gallant has said the 2015-16 budget is expected to be tabled around the end of March, but could be delayed until April to reflect the impact of the federal budget.