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New Brunswick first quarter report shows slight decline in deficit forecast

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FREDERICTON - New Brunswick has made slight progress on its finances but remains in the red, the provincial government said Wednesday.

Finance Minister Blaine Higgs released a fiscal update projecting a deficit of $387.3 million for the 2014-15 fiscal year, down from the $391.1 million that was forecast in its budget presented in February.

But Premier David Alward said the repercussions from post-tropical storm Arthur earlier this month will also hit the province's bottom line.

"Without a doubt it's had an impact on the economy," Alward said, adding that the provincial government has begun the process of applying for federal disaster assistance.

At the peak of the storm, more than 140,000 New Brunswickers were without power because of downed trees and power lines. It took NB Power more than a week to restore power for all customers.

Audited financial statements were also released Wednesday for the 2013-14 fiscal year that reported a $498.7 million deficit, an improvement of $65.3 million over the third quarter projection but still $20 million more than what last year's budget had forecast.

The fiscal update comes two months before the provincial election set for Sept. 22.

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