At a news conference in Calgary Monday morning, the Wildrose Alliance welcomed two new elected MLAs to the caucus, giving the Wildrose official party status.

"Anyone who would consider joining our party would have to be prepared to walk away from a substantial portion of their paycheque, their campaign war chests and some volunteers," said Wildrose Alliance Leader Danielle Smith in a news release. "Since we are not the party in government, we cannot offer them a cabinet post or the trappings of power - even if we wanted to."

Airdrie-Chestermere MLA Rob Anderson and Calgary-Fish Creek MLA Heather Forsyth recently resigned as members of the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party and as members of the PC Caucus. 

"Under Premier Ed Stelmach, this government has lost its way and to watch what has happened is nothing more than wrong. I could not stand by and be silent anymore," said Forsyth.

The move is another blow for Ed Stelmach's Conservative government, which lost a by-election last September in the riding of Calgary-Glenmore. Paul Hinman took the seat away from the ruling Conservatives who had held the seat since 1969.

Advanced Education Minister Doug Horner says despite the recent change, the PC party remains strong.

"It takes nerve, it takes courage, and it takes integrity when times are tough to stay with the work as a group and to work with your leader who is doing great things.

The premier's office calls the MLAs' resignation "unfortunate and regrettable". The premier is currently on holidays and his staff is downplaying the defections.

Stelmach's spokesperson Tom Olsen says this incident does not signal a significant change in Alberta politics.

Forsyth was a member of the Alberta PC Party for 25 years. Anderson was elected to his first term as an elected MLA in 2008.

A recent Angus Reid survey in December asked respondents who they would vote for if a provincial election were held. It found that 39 per cent of people would vote for the Wildrose Alliance, and only 25 per cent said they'd vote for the ruling Tories.

With files from CTV's Serena Mah