EDMONTON – Premier Rachel Notley says the question of whether Alberta should stop changing its clocks every spring and fall hasn’t been resolved yet.
An all-party legislature committee dominated by NDP members of the legislature unanimously voted Tuesday to urge the government to abandon a bill that would keep the province on the same time all year.
While the committee heard from Albertans that sticking to one time would be convenient, help kids with sleep rhythms and aid seniors taking pills on a schedule, it felt the effect on business was too onerous for Alberta to go it alone.
“That (impact on business) is certainly not something we want to see happen,” said NDP member Karen McPherson.
“We certainly don’t want to see that happen at this time in our province’s history when the economy is front of mind for many, many people.”
Alberta’s economy has been fighting to regain its footing following thousands of job losses in recent years due to sluggish oil prices.
McPherson made the motion to recommend Alberta not proceed with the private member’s bill introduced in the spring by NDP backbencher Thomas Dang.
All legislature members will have to sign off on the committee’s recommendation when the house resumes next month for the bill to officially die.
Notley said the issue is still on the table.
“There were some good points that were raised and I think there’s more research and work that has to be done around it,” she said in Calgary, where cabinet was meeting Tuesday. “It’s still an open question.
“There were some good comments, good considerations that were raised about economic impact, and so … it’s important to dig into that a little more.”
Regardless of the outcome, Dang said he got the ball rolling on an important issue. He said his work shows the majority of Albertans want to stop changing the clocks, but that it must be done with other jurisdictions.
“I think there’s a chance here for Alberta to pave the way forward for the rest of the country,” said Dang.
Committee members from the newly formed United Conservative Party also voted to abandon the bill. United Conservative member Tany Yao literally applauded McPherson’s motion.
“The one impact that is most concerning in this private member’s bill is the economic impact,” said Yao.
NDP member Michael Connolly agreed. He said that while many of his constituents support getting rid of the twice-yearly time change, he believes “it wouldn’t be prudent to do so by ourselves.”
“We do have to work with the other jurisdictions in Canada,” he said. “Doing it unilaterally would not benefit Alberta the way we hope it would.”
Dang’s bill would put Alberta on the same time as Saskatchewan year-round. The province would remain one hour ahead of British Columbia in the summer and two hours ahead in the winter.
After the bill was introduced by Dang, it was referred to the committee for further study, feedback and recommendations.
A summer online survey generated about 13,000 responses, three-quarters of which urged doing away with the time change.
Recent in-person hearings in four cities brought the opposite response, with 69 of 113 submissions against the bill.
Business leaders have led the charge against the change. They argue it would put export-focused Alberta too far out of sync with out-of-province customers and partners.
Calgary-based airline WestJet said getting rid of the time change would be difficult for early-morning B.C. travellers as well as for those making connections through Calgary.
The Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames NHL teams said they were worried about the impact of having some Saturday night games on the West Coast not airing until late in Alberta.
Albertans voted for daylight saving in a plebiscite in 1971 after narrowly rejecting it in a vote four years earlier.
— With files from Bill Graveland in Calgary