03/22/2012 03:13 EDT | Updated 05/22/2012 05:12 EDT

Saskatchewan environment minister says fire crew cuts won't hinder safety

REGINA - Saskatchewan's environment minister says safety will not be compromised by a decision to cut the size of northern fire-fighting crews.

The government announced in its budget that fire teams will be reduced to four people from five.

Dustin Duncan says B.C. and Alberta also use smaller crews and he's confident there will still be effective service in northern Saskatchewan.

The crews build breaks and do other ground work to stop fires from growing.

The Opposition NDP says the cuts are dangerous.

New Democrat Buckley Belanger says it's expected to be a dry year in the North and the move will leave communities less protected.