TRURO, N.S. - The Canadian Union of Public Employees and the Nova Scotia government reached a tentative contract deal Monday morning, bringing a swift end to a strike by more than 4,000 rural health care workers.
Picket lines went up at 6 a.m. after all-night negotiations in Truro failed to produce a deal.
Less than two hours later, both sides had reached a tentative agreement and picket lines were coming down.
"We're obviously very, very pleased," John McCracken, a spokesman for the union, said shortly after the deal was announced.
Details of the agreement were not released, but the union was recommending its acceptance.
"We achieved our major objectives," said McCracken.
In recent weeks, the uncertainty surrounding the negotiations forced administrators at 33 health care facilities outside the Halifax region to implement contingency plans.
They included reducing services and closing some emergency rooms at smaller hospitals as well as cancelling some elective surgeries.
The Capital District Health Authority - Nova Scotia's largest - was also hit by the ripple effect of a potential strike, despite not being involved in the labour dispute.
Health officials at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre in Halifax called off about 32 surgeries in anticipation of receiving patients diverted from areas hit by a strike.
Deputy premier Frank Corbett said he was pleased with the outcome.
"We would have hoped obviously that it was done quicker, nonetheless, they did reach a deal," he said from his home in New Waterford, N.S.
"Very little interruptions, so we're happy with that."
The workers are employed in 33 hospitals outside the capital region.
The government said district health authorities would begin immediately re-establishing services that had been scaled back.
The provincial government and CUPE also reached a last-minute deal for some 3,000 rural school support workers on Sunday.
Heading into the weekend, the union had been looking for a three-year deal with a 2.9 per cent wage hike each year.
The province had offered a four-year contract with a 2.9 per cent wage increase in the first two years and a one per cent increase for each of the remaining two years.