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Off the clock: Yukon prepares to end seasonal time changes

Starting on Nov. 1 Yukon will be one hour ahead of Vancouver and two hours ahead of Alaska
Yukon’s clocks will no longer change in March and November but will remain permanently on Pacific Daylight Saving Time. (Courtesy Yukon government)

Yukoners, take note: there will be no “falling back” this year.

Going forward, the clocks will no longer change in March and November but will remain permanently on Pacific Daylight Saving Time.

That means Yukon standard time is the default — shifting how our clocks relate to British Columbia, Alaska, Alberta and the Northwest Territories as the neighbouring jurisdictions make their changes.

“There’s no manual, there’s no checklist, there’s no guidance globally on how to change the timezone,” said Andrew Smith, who has been leading the changeover for the Yukon government.

“It was really a voyage of discovery to figure out where these authorities for time are and understanding how these systems work and knowing who to talk to and making those calls. I’ve been in contact with people around the world,” he said.

Smith has been doing the research and legwork for the past six months preparing for the change. That included liaising with telecoms providers and major tech companies to try and make the switch as seamless as possible.

In most cases, Yukoners who rely on cell phones or laptops should see their devices adapt automatically. Smith notes it’s important that software is updated recently to be able to make that change, and some applications might need direct attention.

“Specific systems that aren’t connected to the internet that may have a program with daylight saving time built into them. They’re going to need attention and to be examined,” he said.

When setting a timezone on their devices users should be careful to select “UTC -7 Yukon” or “Whitehorse” rather than Vancouver, whenever it’s an option.

Finally, calendar items created previous to Nov. 1 should also be double-checked to make sure you aren’t showing up to appointments an hour late.

“At least for the first couple of weeks in November, it’s going to be good practice to just check-in on appointments that you do have to make sure that they’re coming in at the right time,” Smith said.

The good news is you won’t need to adjust the microwave, car or analog clock ever again for daylight saving time.

Unfortunately, although discussions have been taking place, neighbouring jurisdictions aren’t on board yet. B.C. put off its seasonal time change decision due to COVID-19 and will carry on as usual. On Nov. 1 the Yukon will be two hours ahead of Alaska, one hour ahead of most of B.C. and the same time as Alberta and the Northwest Territories.

That means at 1 p.m. in Whitehorse, it will be 11 a.m. in Skagway, 12 p.m. in Vancouver, 1 p.m. in Yellowknife and 1 p.m. in Calgary.

When the clocks change over for other jurisdictions in March, Yukon time will once again line up with the majority of British Columbia. Until then, Yukoners effectively will be operating in Mountain Time for things like television programming times.

The decision comes after a public survey saw more than 4,800 Yukoners and organizations respond. A total of 93 per cent of respondents stated their desire for ending the seasonal time change with 70 per cent of those in favour of ending it with Pacific Daylight Saving Time.

Contact Haley Ritchie at