The union representing around 150 employees at West Fraser Timber in Fort Frances, Ont. has ratified a four-year collective agreement that includes multiple benefits gains.

The new contract, which is retroactive to Aug. 1, 2022, includes a new maternity leave top-up program that provides new mothers with additional financial support. During the first eight weeks of an authorized maternity leave, the company will make up the difference between 75 per cent of the new mother’s regular salary, minus any benefit (gross amount) the employee is entitled to receive from the government or other sources, up to a maximum of $2,500.

The agreement also includes an annual $3,000 in orthodontic coverage, an increase in vision care coverage to $400 per year and a rise in the annual health-care spending account to $500.

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In addition, production workers will receive a salary increase of $2.50 an hour, while trades will receive $3.50 more an hour over the term of the agreement, with a total average wage increase of 23 per cent over the term.

In other news, a recent Alberta Labour Relations Board decision means Alberta health-care workers will keep their defined benefit pensions even if their jobs are privatized by the government.

According to a press release, the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the Health Sciences Association of Alberta are encouraged by the decision since DynaLIFE, the private health-care company taking over certain public lab services, has an obligation to uphold terms in collective bargaining agreements, including pensions.

“This is a precedent-setting decision and our unions will be working hard to ensure these members and all public sector workers keep their pensions regardless of their employer,” said Rory Gill, CUPE Alberta president, in the release.

Read: Burnaby Public Library, CUPE agreement includes flexible work improvements