February 1, 2016 5:20 pm
Updated: February 1, 2016 5:21 pm

Uncertainty over spending cuts looms on eve of New Brunswick budget

WATCH ABOVE: What could be the most important budget in New Brunswick history is set to be announced. As Global’s Jeremy Keefe reports, many are weighing in on what eliminating a $450-million deficit could mean for taxpayers.

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As the Liberal government prepares to deliver one of the most important budgets in New Brunswick history on Tuesday, speculation over how the province will shrink its deficit continues to dominate the discussion.

READ MORE: Brian Gallant ponders tough choices as New Brunswick budget nears

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“New Brunswick is in a tough spot,” Fin Poschmann, CEO of the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council, said Monday. “Best thing the budget can do is lay out a medium-term fiscal plan, a credible one that’s showing how the province is going to get balanced in short order.”

Premier Brian Gallant has hinted at where his cabinet will begin the long road toward cutting the province’s $450-million debt — new highway tools, downsizing the civil service and tax increases are all on the table.

Kevin Lacey, the Atlantic Canada director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, said raising taxes might not get things back on track.

“When we raise taxes we put the brakes on the economy and that means we can’t create the jobs necessary that we need to grow the economy and grow our revenues and get ourselves back to balance,” he said.

READ MORE: 2016 budget will mean cuts to civil service among other changes: government source

New Brunswickers will be looking for their government to provide a solid plan to not only alleviate the province’s debt, but to ensure it’s accomplished in a way that doesn’t take away from existing services nor come solely out of their wallets.

Gallant has said major cuts to education and health care are not in the cards, which has some thinking tax hikes are a sure bet. Until 1 p.m. Tuesday, however, it remains purely speculation.

© 2016 Shaw Media

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