Nurses in the Cree communities stepped back from the brink of a mass resignation after a last-minute offer from Quebec.

The nurses had threatened to quit en masse after saying the government has ignored their plight. They were upset about their pay, accommodations, heavy workload and other issues.
Nurses in the Inuit communities were also threatening to quit.

After all-night negotiations, the nurses reached an agreement-in-principle with Quebec on April 1.

They got a new $14,000-a-year isolation bonus, which goes up to $17,000 in some cases. The government had originally proposed a $7-$10,000 bonus, but sweetened the pot to resolve the crisis. The bonus applies to both Cree and non-Cree nurses.

The agreement also promises an extra $7,000-a-year for those who work in nurse stations, where nurses have more responsibilities.

Also, nurses will be able to get up to five years of northern leave to work in Iyiyuuschii or Nunavik, instead of the two years’ leave permitted until now.

“This is very, very good,” said Suzanne Roselle, James Bay nurses’ union president, of the deal. “It was to assure that nurses would want to come up North and stay up North.”