NWT government sets out position on daylight savings change

A digital clock in downtown Yellowknife in December 2019
A digital clock in downtown Yellowknife in December 2019. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio

Turn the clocks back to early March, before the pandemic took hold of the NWT, and many of the territory’s residents were admiring Yukon’s decision to abandon daylight savings.

Time in Yukon now runs unchanged on Pacific Daylight Saving Time, year-round. Rylund Johnson, the Yellowknife North MLA, asked if the NWT government had plans to make a similar change.

“I believe it is time for the Northwest Territories to do this,” Johnson told fellow MLAs at the time. “Can we take the lead and get rid of time change?”

The territorial government has now published its written response to that question.



The essence of the territory’s reply is that the NWT will watch what Alberta does – and probably follow suit.

“Alberta has been working on a legislative approach to prepare the province for a shift to a permanent time standard in a timely manner, when and if a decision is made to do so,” reads a letter to Johnson signed by Caroline Wawzonek, the NWT’s justice minister.

“The Department of Justice is recommending that the Government of the Northwest Territories follow a similar approach to Alberta,” states the letter, tabled in the legislature on Tuesday.

“As the alignment of our time zone with neighbouring jurisdictions will be an important consideration, this proposed approach would prepare our government to move quickly when necessary.



“With this in mind, I have instructed the department to prepare a legislative proposal for consideration.”

In other words, the NWT expects to prepare legislation that could be quickly enacted to match Alberta if the province decides to abandon daylight savings.

Last year, a survey of Alberta residents suggest more than 90 percent of them want to abandon daylight savings and keep to summer hours year-round.

Premier Jason Kenney said in March: “I think it’s becoming more and more obvious that our whole region in North America is moving in that direction.

“I personally support that idea, but we are going to complete our consultations before making a final decision.”

No such final decision has so far been announced, but Albertans have been promised “plenty of notice.”