After they endured a four-month winter lockout to protect the quality of child welfare services in northeastern Ontario, children’s aid workers finally have a new contract with their employer, the District of Nipissing and Parry Sound children’s aid society (CAS).

An arbitrator’s award has settled a new collective agreement between the agency and its workforce. The agreement provides a modest wage increase and protects the sick leave that was under attack by the society’s directors.

“We are proud that the workers at Nipissing and Parry Sound CAS stood up for each other and for the vulnerable people we serve,” said Elizabeth Holmes, vice-president of Local 2049 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), which represents workers at the agency.

“Congratulations are in order for CUPE 2049’s membership, leaders, and bargaining committee,” said CUPE national representative Fran Bélanger. “Their unwavering commitment will make it possible to deliver better child protection services in their communities. And their strength and solidarity will ultimately benefit children’s aid workers across Ontario.

“We will be back at the bargaining table next year, once again seeking the improvements that will strengthen services and ensure that vulnerable children and families in the north get the level of services that they deserve,” concluded Bélanger.

The collective agreement settled by the arbitrator’s award will expire on March 31, 2018.