NDP Leader Dominic Cardy is calling on Finance Minister Blaine Higgs to use his influence to change the Alward government's direction or resign from cabinet.
Cardy was responding to Higgs' acknowledgement that the provincial government withheld a first quarter update on the province's deteriorating financial situation around the same time the premier announced an expanded cabinet.
"The Alward Conservatives hid the first quarter financial report because the numbers were embarrassing," Cardy said.
"Minister Higgs cannot continue to criticize while sitting around the cabinet table and rubber-stamping these decisions," he said, urging him to take action and demonstrate the courage of his convictions."
The NDP leader said Higgs cannot continue to talk tough about fiscal discipline, while making "irresponsible spending decisions."
"Minister Higgs needs to take a side. He talks about choosing between wants or needs. What New Brunswick wants is a Finance Minister with the courage of his convictions and what New Brunswick needs is for Minister Higgs to take action or resign."
The first quarter report, compiled in late September or early October, showed the deficit was already $51 million over budget, Higgs has said.
But the province's finances were deteriorating so rapidly, he didn't see the point in disclosing the report, he told CBC News.
On Sept. 26, Premier David Alward announced a new, larger cabinet with 17 members instead of 15.
Last week, Higgs released a second quarter financial update that showed the province's projected deficit is now more than $356 million.
Cardy contends withholding the first quarter financial results is "another example of the [Progressive]
Conservatives' lack of transparency.
"Secret committee meetings, hidden reports, patronage and favouritism are old politics," he said.
The Liberals also criticized the provincial government's decision to withhold the first quarter fiscal update.
Liberal MLA Donald Arseneault, the opposition's finance critic, said in a statement that he wondered if the premier was stopping the finance minister from being able to carry out his responsibilities.
"This is the government that promised openness and transparency, but here is yet another situation where they’ve tried to hide information from the public," he said.
"Contrary to his election promise, the premier expanded his cabinet despite the worsening financial situation."