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N.B. premier discusses next steps for province at caucus meeting in Plaster Rock

NB Premier discusses next steps for province at caucus meeting in Plaster Rock
WATCH ABOVE: Premier Brian Gallant met with caucus to discuss the future of the province and what his government has already accomplished under the current mandate. Global's Adrienne South reports.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was first published at 5:18 p.m. on Aug. 25, 2016 and incorrectly said that opposition leader Bruce Fitch was waiting for the Gallant government to issue the education discussion paper or literacy report, that was supposed to be presented in June.  It has since been corrected to say that the opposition is waiting on the government’s response to the Education discussion paper or the Literacy report, both released in June.

Premier Brian Gallant met with caucus Thursday to discuss the governments accomplishments so far, and what needs to be done going forward.

The Gallant government is nearing the two-year mark of its mandate and the premier says there’s been good progress in growing the economy by 1.9 per cent and putting more money into the pockets of New Brunswickers with the second-largest wage growth in Canada.

“We’re very proud of the fact that we’re working with New Brunswickers and community leaders to get things done when it comes to the economy, education and health care,” Gallant said.

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Gallant says there’s still lots to be done.  He says the main priorities are balancing the budget for 2020, creating consistent economic growth, creating a “smart province” through education training, and being able to have a strong health care system.

READ MORE: Health care, economy top agenda for NS, NB premiers at first ministers meeting

The premier says finding ways to balance the budget wasn’t easy, but he says getting finances under control is important.

“Right now we pay more interest on our debt than we invest in post secondary education,” Gallant said.

He says that means the government is paying more on debt than investing in universities, colleges and student financial aid.

Gallant also reiterated his promise to keep rural hospitals open.

In a statement to Global News, opposition leader Bruce Fitch says he’s not impressed with the Gallant government’s progress.

Fitch says he’s waiting for the Ten Year Education plan and hopes to see it before teachers return to classrooms next week.
“We haven’t even seen the government’s response to the Education discussion paper or the Literacy report, both released in June,” Fitch said.
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“We are waiting for the true financial picture to be revealed for the last fiscal year. How huge was the deficit? How much was spent on the premier’s travel and self-promotion?” Fitch said.

Fitch says he’s also disappointed with the tuition access bursary program and the loss of doctors.