FREDERICTON (CNB) - The tentative contract agreement reached by the provincial government and the union representing, among others, teachers' assistants, school administrative assistants and school library assistants has been voted on and ratified by members of Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 2745.

"We are pleased that this agreement has come together and is supported by CUPE's membership," said Finance Minister Blaine Higgs, who is also minister of human resources. "It is clear that New Brunswick has severe fiscal challenges and it is encouraging to see a willingness from both sides to work together to reach agreements that are fair to both employees and taxpayers."

The agreement provides two years of zero-per-cent wage increases, followed by general economic increases of two per cent in each of the following two years. As well, the contract increases the guaranteed hours of work for teachers' assistants to 30 hours per week by September 2012. Government and union representatives will officially sign the new collective agreement in the near future.