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The union president for the Canadian Border Services Agency employees is “relieved” after reaching a new tentative agreement that includes retirement benefits and new paid leave programs.

Under the four-year agreement, which dates back to 2018, the Treasury Board has committed to working toward the introduction of early retirement benefits for the border employees, along with an average wage increase of more than two per cent a year and a paid meal allowance for uniformed staff.

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It also provides a new maximum of 57 weeks of parental leave per couple with a 93 per cent top-up and expands the current family leave and bereavement leave policies to include anyone who the employee deems a relative regardless of blood relationship. Employees experiencing domestic violence will also be provided up to 75 hours of annual leave.

The agreement also includes what the union calls better protection against “excessive discipline” in the workplace, an enhanced grievance-handling process and a national committee to address “workplace culture problems.”

The deal, which was reached on Aug. 6 after more than 36 straight hours of mediated talks, came with just days to spare before U.S. citizens and permanent residents were expected to begin queuing up for their first chance to get into Canada since before the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re relieved that CBSA and the government finally stepped up to address the most important issues for our members to avoid a prolonged labour dispute,” said Chris Aylward, national president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, in a statement.

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