02/03/2014 04:44 EST | Updated 04/05/2014 05:59 EDT

B.C. Community-Health Workers Ratify Deal With Government

VICTORIA - More than 15,000 community-health employees, including home-support workers, alcohol and drug counsellors and staff at mental-health group homes, have ratified a five-year contract with the B.C. government.

Members of the multi-union Community Health Bargaining Association voted nearly 79 per cent in favour of the agreement, which was reached four months before the current deal expires, on March 31.

The new contract provides a 5.5 per cent wage hike, with the possibility of additional increases if the B.C. economy exceeds annual forecasts set by the Economic Forecast Council during the last four years of the deal.

A news release from the government says four agreements with public-sector employees have been negotiated under the same mandate, which applies to contracts that expire on or after Dec. 31, 2013.

Finance Minister Mike de Jong says the deal benefits all British Columbians by ensuring the services provided by people who work in the community-health sector will continue to be delivered effectively and at a cost that's affordable for government and taxpayers.

The association consists of members from several unions, including the Hospital Employees Union, the B.C. Government and Service Employees Union and the Professional Employees Association.

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