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N.B. finance minister says provincial budget will be ‘making do with what we have’

Click to play video 'Blaine Higgs’ minority government to table first New Brunswick budget' Blaine Higgs’ minority government to table first New Brunswick budget
WATCH: Tuesday is another test for Blaine Higgs’ minority government as it tables its first budget. The province’s finance minister doesn’t appear concerned about whether it will pass. As Andrew Cromwell tells us, Ernie Steeves has returned to the old standard – comparing the budget to his shoes – Mar 18, 2019

New Brunswick Finance Minister Ernie Steeves says the Higgs government’s first budget on Tuesday will be balanced with no tax increases.

For the occasion, Steeves has polished up a pair of shoes he’s been wearing for the past five-plus years.

He says his shoes embody the ethos of the government’s first budget: making do with what you have.

“The infrastructure of what we already have in place is what we’re trying to take care of,” said Steeves.

“These shoes are in place, and I’m trying to take care of them.”

READ MORE: Higgs government under fire for budget cuts and loss of federal dollars

Last month, New Brunswickers were told the budget would be balanced with a small surplus of $4.5 million.

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Steeves describes the budget as both good and difficult.

“Are there going to be some areas that are going to get less money? Yes, there are going to be some areas but there are going to be other areas that get more money and there are going to be some areas…that [are getting] new money,” he said.

With all areas of the government under scrutiny, there has been concern about the budgets of certain departments, including health care and education.

As far as the other parties in the legislature are concerned, People’s Alliance Leader Kris Austin supports a balanced budget but also wants at least some of the savings reinvested.

“I want to make sure that we don’t cut so deep that we lose the maintenance of our current assets, including roads,” said Austin. “Whether that’s snowplowing in the wintertime, paving in the summer, bridges…that sort of thing”

Most say the success or failure of the minority government is dependent on the support of the People’s Alliance.

Austin says he hasn’t seen anything at this point that would result in his party not supporting the budget.

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WATCH: New Brunswick premier joins delegation travelling to Washington

Click to play video 'New Brunswick premier joins delegation travelling to Washington' New Brunswick premier joins delegation travelling to Washington
New Brunswick premier joins delegation travelling to Washington – Feb 21, 2019

The Liberals say they are looking for ensured care for the province’s most vulnerable.

“The provincial government now needs to put an action plan together for housing that will come and help the homeless,” said Liberal finance critic Roger Melanson.

Green Party Leader David Coon wants an inquiry on tax fairness “so that the recommendations that come out of it are good, sound and will lead to a fairer system so that large companies that are profitable and heavy industry are paying their fair share,” he said.

Specific details of the budget will be unveiled when the document is presented on Tuesday during the beginning of the spring sitting of the legislature.

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