Belt-tightening time, says Dunderdale

In a sneak peek of the provincial budget Tuesday, Premier Kathy Dunderdale said people hoping for new spending will be disappointed.

Premier said don't expect lavish government spending in the upcoming budget

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Kathy Dunderdale gave a sneak peek of the provincial budget Tuesday and she said people hoping for new spending will be disappointed.

In a major speech to the St. John's Board of Trade, Dunderdale warned that the government will run deficits for the next two years.

She also said everyone – from taxpayers to unions — should prepare for some lean times.

Dunderdale said government departments have been told to find ways to save money.

"The clear message went out some time ago to all departments: 'Don’t come in with a wish list. Come in with what absolutely has to be done…what is absolutely necessary'," she said.

"We will consider it within a framework, but in the meantime as you are doing that, you be down in the weeds in your department and seeing where you can find efficiencies."

Dunderdale said  government can't grow any further and she has ordered an audit of all government programs.

The premier also announced a 10-year plan to reduce the province's per-capita debt to the national average.

Opposition leader Dwight Ball said he largely agrees with what Dunderdale said.

"I don’t think it will be a popular message right now but I think it is time.  We have had significant increases in the last few years. I’m not here to say we don’t have to get our debt to a manageable level. I believe we do."

Two of the province's oil fields will stop production this year for maintenance.

That’s expected to reduce government revenue and put it back into a deficit.