Paramedics on P.E.I. have ratified a new collective agreement with Island EMS.
The agreement offers a 7.75 per cent increase in pay over four years and is retroactive to Dec. 31, 2018. The union had been without a contract since the end of that year.
The deal also features, for the first time, the inclusion of a domestic violence leave for its members.
CUPE Local 3324, which represents all paramedics in the province, said this is the first time a local in P.E.I. has reached an agreement that includes such language.
"This allows our members to access time off if they're experiencing any type of physical, sexual or financial abuse from their partners or spouse," said president Jason Woodbury.
"This is certainly a win for our local and for the province."
The agreement was ratified by a slim margin of 52 per cent.
Woodbury said the small margin shows that there some outstanding labour issues that still need to be addressed. He said some of the people who voted against it may have done so out as a protest vote.
"Our members are overworked. They're feeling stressed. You know, not always monetary issues are what retain paramedics here in Prince Edward Island or right across the country," he said.
"The resources in Prince Edward Island are very thin on most days. Staffing is an issue, as we've talked about before. The workload is an issue, offload delays are an issue. There's so many items that are causing our paramedics to leave the province and go elsewhere."
Woodbury said the union has sent a letter to the province with some recommendations to improve the situation.
The recommendations include more incentives, resources and better education options for future paramedics, such as satellite courses taught throughout the province.
"The local has been working behind the scenes with government to come up with a strategic plan for recruitment and retention. We've also been working with the employer to come up with that same plan," Woodbury said.
The union represents about 170 people in the province.