National Newswatch

TORONTO - Federal New Democrat Leader Tom Mulcair says the Harper government's projected surplus for next year is a "mirage" because it is based on billions of dollars in cuts to much needed programs.

Mulcair made the comments in Toronto moments after Finance Minister Joe Oliver delivered the government's fall fiscal and economic update, which predicts a $1.9-billion surplus for next year.

That is lower than the $6.4-billion surplus projected in February, mostly due to the government's multibillion-dollar cost-cutting measures for families with children, which include higher child-care benefits and a controversial income-splitting plan.

Mulcair says only 14 per cent of Canadians would benefit from the Tories' income-splitting proposal and accuses the government of "taking from the poor to give to the rich."

He says the NDP will be fighting the income-splitting proposal because it makes no social or economic sense.

His party's top priority, Mulcair says, will be avoiding any cuts to health care, rolling back cuts to veterans programs and making sure that universal, affordable, quality childcare "gets done."

The Canadian Press
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