MONTREAL -- The Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec (FIQ) has finally signed its collective agreement with the Quebec government.

The new agreement will take effect on Oct. 10 and will remain so until March 31, 2023.

The FIQ represents 76,000 members, including the majority of nurses, nursing assistants and respiratory therapists.

Negotiations between the two parties have been extremely laborious.

A first agreement on working conditions was reached in November 2020 and then rejected by an intermediate body.

An improved agreement on working conditions was finally accepted in December 2020, followed by further negotiations in 2021 to discuss other issues.

In the end, the overall agreement was ratified by a small percentage of members, 54 per cent -- a sign of continued dissatisfaction within the nursing profession due to the recurring issues of shortages, mandatory overtime, the creation of full-time positions and nurse-patient ratios.

The new agreement does address these issues, including stabilizing care teams and adding full-time positions while including a "recognition bonus" for care professionals.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Oct. 6, 2021.