Could Yukoners be following in the footsteps of Saskatchewan and do away with turning back or springing forward their clocks twice a year?
That may soon be a possibility, after the Yukon Legislative Assembly unanimously passed a motion March 13 asking the Yukon government to “investigate” eliminating daylight saving time in the territory.
Brought forward by the Yukon Party’s Kluane MLA Wade Istchenko, the motion originally asked the Yukon government to “initiate consultations” with Yukoners about “the possible elimination of daylight saving time,” and for the government to report back with results before the end of the 2018 fall sitting.
Istchenko said that he’s heard from “constituents, friends, family and other public groups” that the practice is more trouble than it’s worth and unnecessary.
“Those who do have concerns are parents who have to wake their sleepy children in the morning, whose internal clocks simply do not function according to the legislation,” he said. “They are the people who have sleep disorders and struggle with regularity in their sleep patterns. They are the people who simply do not see the necessity of such a mundane practice.… This conversation has been happening across the country but, more specifically, it has been taking place throughout the territory year after year.”
Istchenko also noted that issue has “spanned political lines,” that a number of studies have illustrated the negative health and safety effects daylight saving can have and that whether the practice results in decreased energy consumption, as some proponents argue, is up for debate.
“The Yukon is a magnificent place, and we are fortunate to have extensive daylight hours during the summer months, regardless of the clock change,” Istchenko said. “In fact, one would argue the fact that the time change really has little to no effect on Yukon daylight in the summer, except maybe confusion.”
Liberal Party Porter Creek Centre MLA Paolo Gallina proposed an amendment to the motion, asking that the parts about consultations be struck out and be replaced with asking the government to “investigate” the idea instead.
Istchenko was critical of the amendment, which was not supported by members of the Yukon Party nor the NDP but ultimately passed due to a majority vote from Liberal members.
“The intent of this motion was to actually go out there and listen to Yukoners and that is why we put that forward,” Istchenko said. “By eliminating reporting back the results, we’re going to investigate and then we’re going to do what the Liberals do — just don’t tell anybody what you heard.”
Community Services Minister John Streicker and Premier Sandy Silver defended the amendment.
“My notion of the word ‘investigate’ is that it will include conversations with Yukoners,” Streicker said.
“One of the challenges with the (fall 2018 sitting) timeline that is there is that it just makes it very prescriptive, and we are looking to allow this to have more opportunity than it would otherwise.”
Silver added that “investigate” doesn’t mean “to put on a shelf.”
“I resent that is what the Yukon Party believes we are going to do on this particular topic,” he said.
The amended motion was ultimately unanimously passed.
Should the Yukon choose to stop switching its clocks, it would join a handful of Canadian jurisdictions that have already shunned the practice — most notably, the majority of Saskatchewan, which, in 1966, passed the Time Act that decreed that almost all of the province would permanently run on the central time zone. Portions of northern B.C., eastern Nunavut and northwestern Ontario also do not observe daylight saving.
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