The prospect of a Victoria Day weekend liquor store strike in Ontario has been taken off the shelf after a deal was reached late Thursday night between the Liquor Control Board of Ontario and its unionized workers.

"We have good news for the citizens of Ontario," said Ontario Public Service Employees Union president Smokey Thomas.  "It was a very difficult round of bargaining, in very difficult economic times, but I'm happy to say for everybody there will not be a strike in the LCBO."

The union had set a strike deadline of 12:01 a.m. Friday. The deal was reached with about two hours to spare.

OPSEU represents about 7,000 LCBO workers. The major issue, according to the union, was part-time and temporary work.

Thomas said he could not speak about the terms of the tentative deal until it is shown to the union membership, but said the new contract includes "improvements made … but I think when all the details are out I think our members will be very pleased."

The bargaining committee is unanimously recommending the membership accept the new deal.

"It's a deal that is as fair as we can possibly be in tough economic times to the workers, and it's a deal that in my mind is certainly fair to the taxpayers of Ontario," Thomas said.

The president of the LCBO thanked the public for its patience as the negotiations reached a critical point.

"We believe this agreement is fair to employees, is in the best interest of taxpayers and will enable LCBO to continue to provide responsible, quality service to customers and licensees across the province," Bob Peter said in a statement.

A strike would have been the first in the liquor board's 87-year history.

With files from The Canadian Press