The territorial government’s number one sick day each year is almost upon us: the day after daylight savings kicks in for the summer.
The NWT’s justice minister, RJ Simpson, identified the coming Monday as the GNWT’s top sick day while taking questions on legislation relating to how the territory might drop its time change.
A bill set to pass in the near future will make it easier for the NWT to eliminate seasonal time changes “in favour of a permanent, year-round time standard.”
While the legislation makes that change easier, the NWT government has so far resisted any definitive step toward making such a switch. Ministers say in all likelihood the territory will wait for Alberta to make a move first before following suit.
It’s a year since the Yukon decided to remain on daylight savings time year-round.
The NWT’s justice minister on Thursday noted “previously voiced public support, research findings that permanent time is healthier and safer, as well as a growing trend in which Canadian and international jurisdictions are eliminating seasonal time changes in favour of a permanent time standard.”
“This amendment will position the NWT to be able to move expeditiously to a permanent time standard as this issue continues to evolve across Canadian jurisdictions,” Simpson said in summarizing the legislation’s effect on Thursday.
In the ensuing discussion among MLAs, Simpson – responding to a question from Yellowknife North MLA Rylund Johnson – said: “The number one sick day is ‘spring ahead,’ so daylight savings. I’m not sure if I have the estimates of how much that costs the government on an annual basis, but we do see a significant cost to the GNWT.”
“I think that is reason alone to get rid of the time change,” Johnson replied, stating the Monday after the spring time change is “also one of the most common sick days in the private sector, costing private businesses millions of dollars every year.”
There is some scientific evidence to suggest the annual loss of an hour’s sleep through daylight savings has a negative impact on health.
NWT residents will have an email address they can contact to provide feedback about whether they’d like to see a time change, but Simpson said the territory would almost certainly wait for Alberta. He said he did not know what Alberta’s plans regarding the time change were.
“I’m anxious. I’m looking forward for Alberta to do it so that we can do it,” Simpson said.
Alberta’s provinicial government has paused an examination of whether it should abandon time changes while it deals with the pandemic.