The Northwest Territories is reviewing proposed legislative changes that would give the territory the power to abandon twice-yearly time changes. However, there’s so far no suggestion that power will be used.
The Standing Committee on Social Development – a group of MLAs – is studying suggested changes to the Interpretation Act, which lays out the current, threadbare legislation governing Daylight Savings.
In the proposal, the GNWT would acquire the power to replace the twice-yearly time change with “one fixed time standard.”
The territorial government has spent recent weeks asking municipalities to submit letters of support for the proposed amendment – while being careful not to suggest any change in the NWT’s time zone is imminent.
For example, a briefing note for Hay River councillors stressed that the GNWT’s request was not for “an indication of council’s position” on Daylight Savings, but instead a request that council support giving the GNWT “sole discretion in making a determination.”
The Yukon has now permanently moved to what was previously considered its Daylight Savings arrangement. The territory did not “fall back” in November and the time today is the same in both the Yukon and NWT. (In the summer, the NWT will be an hour ahead.)
Whether the NWT ever follows the Yukon remains to be seen.
A spokesperson for the NWT’s Department of Justice told Cabin Radio more discussion is needed.
“In determining whether to permanently eliminate Daylight Savings Time, the NWT will consider the advantages of coordinating with other provinces and territories that are considering parallel initiatives,” the department stated.
Not a new debate
At the legislature, MLAs will hold a public hearing on the topic from noon on February 9.
Last year, NWT officials said they were monitoring other jurisdictions’ plans before committing to any change.
Yellowknife North MLA Rylund Johnson had in March 2020 asked fellow MLAs if they could take the lead and change the legislation.
Then-justice minister Caroline Wawzonek said in a letter that her department recommended the NWT “follow a similar approach to Alberta.”
Earlier this month, Hay River’s town council agreed. Councillors said any change in the NWT should hinge on whether Alberta makes a similar move.
“I know people have this discussion every year when we have to change the times. I’m cool with not changing at all,” said Hay River’s deputy mayor, Robert Bouchard.
“Only if our main source, or our main companies or province we deal with, Alberta, is going to do the same. For and us and Alberta be on a different zone half the year, I have a problem with that.”
Mayor Kandis Jameson said: “It doesn’t make a lot of sense for one of us to be on one time zone and the guys we do business with on a regular basis on the other.”