tp-nb-graham-health

Premier Shawn Graham promised not to raise taxes or cut spending if his government is re-elected next month. ((CBC))

New Brunswick Premier Shawn Graham promised Wednesday that if the Liberals are returned to power in the Sept. 27 provincial election, the party will aim to create 20,000 new jobs over four years.

Speaking before business leaders and Liberal candidates in Saint John, Graham said at least 5,000 of those jobs would come from what he called the "high-growth sectors."

That includes natural gas and other energy products in the south, modular fabrication in the north and information and communications technology in Fredericton and Moncton.

He was less optimistic about growth in the forestry sector.

"It's no secret that the forestry industry has been very hard hit," he told CBC News after his speech. "That's why we need to look today at new opportunities in job creation."

He also promised a Liberal government would not raise taxes or cut services and would hold spending at current levels.

Stephen Carson, CEO of Enterprise Saint John, said the forestry sector was a concern.

"We sometimes think of the forestry sector as northern New Brunswick, where in Saint John, we have $100 million in payroll. Talk about high-value jobs," Carson said after listening to Graham's speech.

"They're going to have to work hard as a government. We're going to have to work hard as communities."

Graham provided few concrete details of the plan, but said they would be rolled out during the election campaign.