Canada budget set for March 29, cuts to be tame

Wed Feb 29, 2012 5:32pm EST
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's budget will be delivered on March 29 and will contain only modest spending cuts rather than the massive reductions that some unions are anticipating, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said on Wednesday.

The governing Conservatives say they plan to cut between C$4 billion ($4 billion) and $8 billion a year to eliminate the budget deficit by the 2015-16 fiscal year.

"This is a jobs and growth budget," Flaherty told reporters in Ottawa. "We are on track still (to balance the budget) for the medium term. There's been no significant change in the track."

Opposition parties and civil service unions say they expect major cuts in both spending and jobs. There are about 285,000 people in the federal civil service.

"We have a C$265 billion budget. We're talking about relatively small spending reductions, certainly nothing more than moderate spending reductions in a budget of that size," Flaherty said.

"Some of the numbers I've read from the some of the public service unions are outrageous. I don't know where they're getting their numbers from," he said.

He added: "I think most Canadians view it as realistic that we ... ask the public service to participate in the belt-tightening that the rest of the country has been doing."

Foreign Minister John Baird - a senior member of cabinet who has many federal bureaucrats in his parliamentary constituency - told the Ottawa Sun newspaper that the cuts would occur overwhelmingly by attrition.   Continued...