The Association of Hospital Pharmacists has reached a tentative deal with the province to increase salaries after nearly two years of negotiations.

Under the the agreement, reached on Sunday, the salary gap between pharmacists who work in hospitals and those that work in the private sector will be 14 per cent, down from 35 per cent. The average salary in hospitals is now $42.59 per hour, up from $37.68. In private pharmacies, the average salary is $51.00 per hour.

Linda Vaillant, the executive director of the association, said she was expecting more out of the negotiations.

"It's not perfect, we would have liked to eliminate the gap completely but I think at least we have something now that's reasonable and that can certainly attract young pharmacists, whereas before they were really just turning away from the hospital practice," she said.

Vaillant said there is a massive shortage of hospital pharmacists in the province. There are 275 unfilled pharmacy jobs in hospitals and local health centres.

"It's the worst shortage that we have in the healthcare system. It's about four times the shortage of nurses right now," said Valliant.

She said she hopes the new contract will help attract young pharmacists to the public sector.