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Tentative contract deal reached for 11,500 health-care workers in Saskatchewan

SEIU-West, SAHO agree on a tentative contract for over 11,500 health-care workers in Saskatchewan.
SEIU-West, SAHO agree on a tentative contract for over 11,500 health-care workers in Saskatchewan. Adam MacVicar / Global News

A tentative contract agreement has been reached between SEIU-West and the Saskatchewan Association of Health Organizations (SAHO).

Union president Barbara Cape said bargaining during the pandemic has been challenging.

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“Our members have been working hard, without fail or falter, without a new collective agreement since March 31, 2017,” Cape said Friday in a statement.

“For the SEIU-West bargaining committee, ensuring the work that our members do on the front line of this pandemic is recognized (as being) our priority.”

Health Minister Paul Merriman said he was pleased to hear a new deal was reached.

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“The collaborative efforts made by both parties to reach an agreement (provide) stability in important health services during this challenging time of a pandemic,” Merriman said in a release.

“SEIU-West members are highly valued members of our health-care teams and are relied on by Saskatchewan residents and I would like to thank them for their dedication.”

Read more: Nurses union, NDP respond to Saskatchewan’s rising COVID-19 cases

Terms of the contract have not been released. Both parties said details will be shared once it has been ratified.

SEIU-West said members will meet by video and teleconference to review the details of the agreement prior to voting, which must be ratified within 60 days.

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However, Cape said the agreement, by itself, does not address staffing shortages.

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“We need real collaboration between government, the Saskatchewan Health Authority and the unions so we can make substantial improvements in the system,” Cape said.

“Our government needs to invest in the front-line services that are offered in our health-care system by really working with us in meaningful ways. They need to appreciate that ‘care’ in health is interconnected among hospitals, long-term care, home care, and community and mental health services.”

SEIU-West represents over 11,500 licensed practical nurses, special care aids, custodians, clerical staff and other professions working in acute care, long-term care, home care, primary health care, emergency medical, public and mental health services.

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