The Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees has negotiated a new three-year deal covering low-budget films, bumping the cap from $9 million to $9.4 million in the first year and by 4.1% in each of the next two years.

IATSE said the pact, which becomes effective Jan. 1, expands the IATSE motion picture agreement into Canada for the first time and will achieve similar working conditions in the U.S. and Canada. Negotiations began in October; terms have been ratified by the IATSE’s General Executive Board.

“I am proud to have secured this historic agreemenet providing similar security to the Canadian members as that afforded through this agreement to those in the United States,” said Thomas Short, IATSE president.

The below-the-line union said 4% hike in the cap correlated to wage and benefit gains in coverage of IATSE employees. It also asserted that over 300 films have been shot under the existing three-year pact, which lifted the cap from $7 million to $9 million.

Over 140 indie companies and producers are signatories to the current pact. The union said the terms of the new deal will be offered to companies through March, after which companies seeking the deal will have to do so on a case-by-case basis on more favorable terms to IATSE.

Howard Fabrik of Akin Gump, who negotiated on behalf of producers, predicted that the new deal would lead to 400 films being produced under its terms during the next three years.

“The IATSE Low Budget Agreement ensures that both producers and film owrkers reap the benefits of new talent, new technology amd more unconventional terms of film financing,” the union said.

Production companies involved in the talks included Bob Yari Prods., Lionsgate Films, Lakeshore Entertainment and Focus Features.