FREDERICTON -- New Brunswick's minority Progressive Conservative government could face an early election if proposed legislation on essential services in nursing homes doesn't pass.

Premier Blaine Higgs says the legislation needs to pass before the end of the month, and he will make the decision a confidence vote.

The governing Tories have a deal with the three members of the People's Alliance to support the government on confidence votes until the spring, but People's Alliance Leader Kris Austin says he might break that deal.

He says the government won't get his party's support unless changes to reclassify paramedics are approved by the end of next week.

Higgs says he hopes there won't be an early election, but the essential services legislation is a "line in the sand" for him.

He says he would be willing to consider only minor amendments to the bill.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 12, 2019.