The Saskatchewan health-care strike ended Wednesday morning following overnight bargaining sessions.

Both sides agreed to a new deal after days of negotiations.

Thousands of health-care professionals were poised to join the first workers who walked off the job last week. The union, the Health Sciences Association of Saskatchewan, represents 2,700 employees ranging from paramedics to pharmacists.

"We're glad that it's done and we're glad that our very limited job action is done and we can go back to work," said union president Chris Driol.

Driol said the new two-year agreement will give members a wage hike of four per cent a year. An additional 2.5 per cent was added to the top step of pay ranges, effective Oct. 1,as an incentive to keep them in the province.

There's also a $1,000 signing bonus for full-timeemployees, with the bonus being pro-rated for part-time and casual employees.

The union said that without the incentive, health professionals would continue to leave Saskatchewan for higher wages elsewhere.

Susan Antosh, who heads the Saskatchewan Association of Health Organizations, the management group representing health regions, said the "retention is always very important, and I think it was important to address the issue at the top step for some of these classifications."

The deal is a relief to the negotiators and perhaps a bigger relief to patients. More than 150 surgeries were cancelled because of the dispute. The few dozen employees who walked off the job will return to work soon.

The last contract expired March 31.