03/13/2014 02:18 EDT | Updated 05/13/2014 05:59 EDT

Nova Scotia finance minister says cost pressures, lower revenues to hit budget

HALIFAX - Nova Scotia's finance minister warned Thursday that wage and other cost pressures will add to the fiscal challenges the provincial government faces with its upcoming spring budget.

Diana Whalen said she has been telling people during pre-budget public consultations that poor economic growth continues to affect government revenue.

The last fiscal update Whalen released in December projected a $481.7 million deficit for 2013-14 due to a large unfunded liability in the public service pension plan and a drop in government revenue.

Whalen said although the province is still waiting on its final revenue numbers for this year, the financial pressure isn't expected to ease.

"I don't have a true sense yet of exactly where we will be," said Whalen. "We have some challenges in terms of the growth in the province and that hasn't changed from last year."

Whalen said any savings from a Liberal promise to trim $28 million from government coffers will be offset by program costs and recent wage settlements that are entering their second and third years.

She said despite that, civil service job cuts are not a priority in this year's budget.

Whalen will conclude pre-budget consultations Monday in Yarmouth.