Canada's Finance Minister Jim Flaherty casts a shadow on a mock-up of the Royal Canadian Mint's 2012 Proof Silver Dollar coin during a unveiling ceremony at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa January 17, 2012.
Credits: REUTERS/Chris Wattie
OTTAWA - The upcoming federal budget won't be "draconian," Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said Thursday.
"It will be moderate in its approach," the minister told reporters in Toronto.
There have been concerns that cuts could go deeper than the Conservative government originally suggested.
Opposition parties and unions have also warned that deep cuts could push Canada into recession.
Flaherty brushed off such concerns, saying federal finances are in far better shape than those of struggling European countries, and that the government's goal is to moderate government growth and ensure long-term financial sustainability.
The minister also said the 2012 budget date will be revealed soon.
The federal government isn't alone in struggling to contain its deficit, and Flaherty preached thrift Thursday to provinces struggling with their own debt and deficits.
He said he has regular talks with his provincial colleagues about curtailing government growth and urges them to be more fiscally prudent.
"It's very important the provinces move in the direction of getting their fiscal houses in order because the long-term effects of accumulated deficits, large public debts are not good - especially when interest rates go up," he said.
Meanwhile, Liberal Treasury Board critic John McCallum accused the government of planning to keep Canadians in the dark as to the full scope of the cuts.
"We'll get information in dribs and drabs as people get fired," he said, pointing to a recent directive from the Treasury Board to departments that forbids them from releasing details about the cuts in upcoming financial reports.
Treasury Board officials haven't responded to requests for comment.
Flaherty, along with Canadian central banker Mark Carney, will be in Mexico City this weekend for a meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bank governors.
On the agenda will be whether countries outside the eurozone should contribute more resources to the International Monetary Fund to help it deal with Europe's debt crisis.
But the Canadian delegation is expected to push for a bolstered firewall around Europe - to ensure the debt crisis there doesn't spread - before it will entertain boosting contributions to the global financial body.