Alberta pharmacists and the provincial government have reached a tentative new deal for dispensing fees and paying pharmacists for counselling services. (CBC)

Alberta pharmacists have reached an agreement in principle that would see them get paid for counselling patients.

Pharmacists already assist diabetics and people who want to stop smoking, Health Minister Fred Horne said.

The new deal would compensate them for those services, he said.

Horne said the agreement also increases dispensing fees, which haven't been changed in more than a decade.

“It's certainly about money. This is updating an agreement that's a decade old. But it's also about recognizing the fact that we can pay pharmacists to provide professional services above and beyond dispensing medication to us,” he said.

Horne said the deal will give patients an alternative to going to the doctor.

Byron Bergh, president of the Alberta Pharmacists’ Association, said the agreement will improve the relationship between the government and pharmacists.

“I’m very pleased we’ve reached an agreement in principle that supports the care we deliver to our patients,” he said.

Pharmacists will vote on the deal over the next 90 days.