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New Brunswick political party leaders speak of need to boost employment

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MONCTON, N.B. - The need to boost employment was at the forefront of New Brunswick's election campaign Monday as the Liberals promised to improve roads and bridges while the governing Tories committed to a strategy for the shipping industry to create jobs.

Liberal Leader Brian Gallant announced in Moncton that he would spend $900 million over six years on infrastructure, a plan he said would sustain about 1,700 jobs annually.

Those estimates are based on a study done for the party by Jupia Consultants, Gallant said, adding that his plan would create jobs in both the short and long term.

"One of the best ways to do this is through stimulus in the short-term, like making strategic investments in our roads and bridges," he said in a statement.

He said the money would be above the annual base budget for infrastructure spending.

Premier David Alward also said he would stimulate job creation by devising a strategy focusing on the province's seaports, airports and trucking hubs.

The Progressive Conservative leader said he would consult with ports and the communities where they are based to shape the plan.

"Every time our ports ship an order of New Brunswick products like french fries, lumber or gasoline to markets around the world, it creates jobs here at home in our communities," Alward said in a statement from the northern port village of Belledune.

Green Leader David Coon released his party's position on job creation, saying investments should be made in businesses that support local food, energy efficiency and sustainability. Coon said his vision would include setting goals that would wean the province off of fossil fuels and towards renewable energy.

New Brunswick's unemployment rate of 10 per cent in July was the second highest of all provinces, according to Statistics Canada.

The provincial New Democrats said they would establish a human health and environmental protection agency, and create the position of chief provincial scientist.

The election is on Sept. 22.

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