Government staff in the United Conservative Party will be taking a seven per cent pay cut, effective Monday.
CBC News first reported that the premier's office told employees Thursday morning that the salary reductions would be brought in next week.
The cuts were later confirmed by the premier's office.
Premier Jason Kenney, when asked about the cuts on Thursday, said he anticipates it will save nearly $1 million.
"So it's not a huge savings, but these symbols are important," he said. "You know, we are facing a great fiscal reckoning as a province, and we're going to have to find ways to reduce the cost of government."
The changes will apply to political staff working for the Government of Alberta, including positions like chiefs of staff, press secretaries, advisors and staff in the premier's office. Schedulers and administrative assistants will see no change.
Sources said the decision is part of larger labour negotiation plans and an effort to demonstrate the government is also willing to take cuts during a challenging economic period for the province.
NDP Opposition Leader Rachel Notley said the pay cuts were a distraction from the up to 11,000 jobs that Alberta Health Services will be losing through outsourcing, attrition and layoffs.
"It's a cheap political tactic," she said.
A letter sent to employees from the premier's chief of staff, Jamie Huckabay, was provided later to CBC News.
"We will not privilege our financial position while many Albertans are facing hardship," it reads.
The letter points to the fiscal situation in the province as justification for the cuts.
"This path is unsustainable."
Provincial government revenues have dropped 23 per cent this year, and Alberta faces a deficit of $24 billion, with the debt exceeding $100 billion.
The premier's office echoed that in a statement. "Today's move regarding political staff is an acknowledgement that those of us in government can tighten our belts as well," said Christine Myatt, a spokesperson for the premier.
Kenney has already taken a 10 per cent salary reduction and MLAs have cut five per cent.