Alberta’s Finance Minister announced Wednesday that a wage freeze for cabinet ministers and government employees had been extended to public sector managers and non-union employees.

Finance Minister Joe Ceci said Wednesday the salary freeze would be in place for two years – and the decision would save the province $28.5 million per year, and affects about 7,000 employees.

Ceci said the decision to bring in the freeze was made in recent weeks.

The province had already frozen salaries of Cabinet ministers, and reversed a decision to give raises to the Auditor General and other staff after public outcry.

It’s a decision the president of Alberta’s largest union believes is being done for optics, when the expected savings is compared to the projected deficit.

“It’s not the right target,” Guy Smith said. “The budget deficit is $6 billion, and this is what? $28 million? It doesn’t even register.”

Ceci called Wednesday’s announcement a first step, but wouldn’t say what the next steps would be. In December, the minister hinted that major childcare and education programs could be delayed or cancelled.

The minister wouldn’t speculate on the contents of Budget 2016, expected to be released in the spring.

With files from Dan Grummett