10/02/2013 07:58 EDT | Updated 12/02/2013 05:12 EST

Alberta Government, Pharmacists, Blue Cross Reach Compensation Deal

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EDMONTON - Alberta pharmacists and Alberta Blue Cross have reached a tentative agreement with the provincial government.

The agreement-in-principle includes four years of funding, changes to dispensing fees, a strengthened relationship between Alberta Health and the Alberta Pharmacists' Association, and updated compensation fees for the services pharmacists provide to Albertans.

The agreement maintains Alberta's position as a top investor in pharmacy services and, if approved, will come into effect on April 1, 2014.

Future pharmacy services that will be available to Albertans include counselling for smoking cessation and a larger focus on medication management for diabetics.

Health Minister Fred Horne says the deal is a step forward in improving access to care and enabling pharmacists to provide even more services to Albertans.

Byron Bergh, president Alberta Pharmacists' Association, says the financial package provides stable funding and ongoing access to high quality pharmacy care.

"Further it formalizes the relationship between pharmacists and government that will enable a better approach to dealing with agreements and new programs in the future, including proactive mechanisms to work through the challenges we jointly face," Bergh said in a news release Wednesday.

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