After four and a half years without a contract, Manitoba nurses have tentatively reached a new deal with the province.

Shared Health tells Global News it’s a seven-year deal with “wide-ranging improvements for all of our dedicated nurses, including retroactive wage increases.”

Manitoba Nurses Union president Darlene Jackson said the deal comes after seven weeks of mediation and that it’s a long time coming.

“It was grueling, but our committee never lost their determination to get a fair collective agreement for our members,” Jackson said in a statement.

The union will hold webinars for members in the coming days to provide information on the new agreement and an online ratification vote will be held.

Nurses say they are dealing with a critical staffing shortage and poor working conditions and there are more than 2,200 vacant positions in the province.

“We know our nurses have made huge sacrifices to keep our system afloat and more than deserve a fair collective agreement,” Jackson added.

“There is still work to be done to address the significant weaknesses in our health care system, but the improvements in this contract are a necessary and positive first step in addressing nurses’ serious concerns.”

Manitobans are glad that the Manitoba Nurses Union and their employer have come to a tentative contract agreement. Out of respect for the ratification process, our government will have no further comment until that process is complete. #MBPoli

— Hon. Kelvin Goertzen (@ManitobaPremier) October 7, 2021

Manitoba NDP health care critic Uzoma Asagwara says the government has let nurses down.

“In the four years that nurses have been without a contract, they faced a PC government that cut healthcare to the bone, a global pandemic, the first strike vote in three decades and burnout amongst their staff,” Asagwara said in a statement.

“The PCs have a long way to go to make up for their mistreatment of nurses.”

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