01/31/2013 06:29 EST | Updated 04/02/2013 05:12 EDT

B.C. health-care workers get modest wage hikes with tentative agreement

VANCOUVER - The B.C. government has reached a tentative two-year deal affecting 16,000 health-care workers including physiotherapists, lab technologists and administrative staff.

Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid says the agreement with the Health Science Professionals Bargaining Association ensures stable service for patients and gives employees a modest wage increase.

The association includes the B.C. Government and Services Employees Union, the Hospital Employees Union and the Professional Employees Association.

Finance Minister Mike de Jong says more than half the people working in B.C.'s public sector now have tentative or ratified agreements under the province's co-operative gains mandate, which applies to employers whose collective agreements expired on or after Dec. 31, 2011.

The government says small wage hikes under the mandate come from existing budgets and don't add costs for taxpayers.

The contract has not yet been ratified and would be retroactive from April 2012 and end in March 2014.