Montreal

Nurses' union FIQ strikes tentative deal with Quebec

The federation for Quebec nurses has reached a tentative deal with Quebec over working conditions and job security, but they still have far to go when it comes to agreeing on pensions and salaries.

Agreement-in-principle affects job security but not salary or contracts

The union represents over 65,000 workers, including the majority of Quebec nurses. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press)

The federation of labour unions representing Quebec nurses has reached a tentative deal with the provincial government over working conditions and job security. 

Negotiations between the Fédération Interprofessionnelle de la Santé du Québec (FIQ) and the government are happening at two different tables — one is concerning salaries and pensions, while the other concerns working conditions and job security.

On Saturday, FIQ announced it had made significant gains at the second table.

The tentative deal includes a higher ratio of nurses to patients, bonuses for working critical care shifts, and a higher number of full-time positions.

The FIQ, which represents 65,000 health-care workers across the province, is calling the tentative deal historic.

It's one of many public sector unions to hold walkouts to protest stalled contract negotiations with Quebec.

"Not only are we the first group, but we're the biggest group of health care professionals in the province of Quebec. So it's clear that we've paved the way for the negotiations in the health care system," said FIQ treasurer Roberto Bomba. 

While that tentative deal is all but signed, the government and nurses are still at odds over pensions and salaries. 

The nurses' union wants a 14.5 per cent raise over three years, the same thing that other public sector workers are asking for. But the province's latest offer was 5.4 per cent over five years.

Health Minister Gaëtan Barrette said today was "a great day" in terms of negotiations and in terms of patient care.

As for the nurses' salaries and pensions — "issues of salaries are another table ... and discussions under that are undergoing at this time," he said.

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