New Brunswick's finance minister says the provincial Health Department will be exempt from the required two per cent budget cuts to each government department.

This week, Blaine Higgs told CBC News each government department would be required to cut their overall budget, despite a campaign promise to increase health spending.

"We're looking at all departments to contribute two per cent on their bottom line," he said Thursday.

During the fall provincial election campaign, the Progressive Conservatives promised that the Health Department would get a three per cent funding increase every year for four years.

On Friday, Higgs said in the case of the Health Department, the two per cent cut would come from any future increases the province would have given them.

"Typically, the health-care expenses have increased between five to six per cent a year, so in our platform we have a two per cent reduction, so if you take the two per cent off the five or six per cent a year, you're getting down to three per cent," said Higgs.

Higgs said he is hoping to cut his overall government budget by about $150 million in an effort to deal with New Brunswick's $749-million deficit.

This year's health budget is $2.46 billion; the department would have had to cut $49.2 million to meet the two per cent target. That figure will have to be made up by other departments now that Health has been declared off-limits to cuts.