FREDERICTON (CNB) – The provincial government signed a four-year contract today with the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 2745 representing, among others, teachers' assistants, school administrative assistants and school library assistants.

Finance Minister Blaine Higgs, who is also minister of human resources, and Education and Early Childhood Minister Jody Carr, participated in the signing ceremony. The signing formalized a tentative agreement reached on Feb. 27 and ratified by the union on March 19.

"The key aspect of this agreement, from our perspective, is that it respects the wage restraint policy which provides for two years of zero increases followed by two per cent increases in each of the final two years." said Higgs."By working collaboratively in this negotiation process, both parties have proven that we can reach an agreement that is fair to our valued public servants while still respecting New Brunswick's fiscal challenges."

The agreement guarantees 30 hours of work per week for teachers' assistants by September 2012.

"The employees of this bargaining group are extremely valuable to the education system and to the overall achievement of New Brunswick's students,” said Carr. “Our students will see significant benefits in the classroom as a result of this agreement. It represents just one of many initiatives we are undertaking as a government to become more effective and efficient in the delivery of educational services for students, teachers and support staff."