Sep 26, 2012 / 3:30 pm
British Columbia's nurses have reached a tentative agreement with the provincial government that includes a small wage increase, a smooth spot in an otherwise rocky set of public sector negotiations that have already seen several one-day strikes and other job action.
Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid won't say what the increase is worth, but she said Wednesday the agreement includes the addition of new nurses, among other improvements.
"This agreement offers solutions that benefit BC's health system and help ensure future sustainability, while keeping patients' needs at the forefront," MacDiarmid said in a news release.
"I would like to thank both parties for working collaboratively."
The agreement was reached under the government's co-operative gains mandate, which is an effort to get both sides looking at ways of saving money that can then go towards wage increases. The mandate's goal is to ensure taxpayers aren't on the hook for any contract improvements and services aren't reduced.
The deal must still be ratified. But Debra McPherson, president of the BC Nurses' Union, said she's looking forward to discussing it next week with the more than 32,000 registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses the union represents.
She said the deal ensures patient care will be done safely through safe staffing, enhanced job security and improved compensation.
"We are pleased we were able to work constructively with health employers to address our members' major concerns," said McPherson.
Details of the agreement will be released after the union presents it to a province-wide group of representatives next week.
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