National Defence took a big hit in Thursday’s federal budget, but this is not expected to affect the shipbuilding contract, said Nova Scotia Finance Minster Graham Steele.

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is trimming $5.2 billion in annual spending, with the National Defence budget receiving the biggest cut of $1.1 billion by 2014-15. Alternatively, the Coast Guard is receiving $5.2 billion over 11 years for new boats and helicopters.

“The federal government says it’s going to keep the regular forces at the same level, that’s promising, so the details on this are yet to come,” Steele said.

He said it appears the cuts won’t affect the shipbuilding contract, but he’d like concrete reassurance from Defence Minister Peter MacKay.

“It’s so important to Nova Scotia’s future,” Steele said.

He said his staff have combed through the budget documents and found nothing that would require the Nova Scotia budget to change.

“I expect to deliver the provincial budget next week as scheduled,” Steele said.

He’s also concerned about the impacts of cuts to the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency ($17.9 million in ongoing reductions), Department of Fisheries and Oceans ($79.3 million) and changes in the business model for the National Research Council.

Mayor Peter Kelly is also worried about the impacts of cuts to defence.

“We wouldn’t want to see any impact to the naval operations,” Kelly said. “I want to make sure it wouldn’t impact that approved (shipbuilding) contract.”

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