What the U.S. daylight saving bill means for Canada

TORONTO — The end of the twice-annual changing of the clocks could be on the horizon as the US Senate passed a bill on Tuesday that would make daylight time permanent.

If the bill becomes law, that could set off a chain reaction north of the border, as two Canadian provinces have already passed legislation to adopt permanent daylight time if neighboring US states do the same.

BC passed a bill to make daylight time permanent in 2019 after 93 per cent of residents voiced their support for such a proposal in a government survey, but the move to permanent daylight time is contingent on Yukon and the states of Washington, Oregon and California doing the same.

Similarly, Ontario passed legislation to do the same — only if New York state and Quebec agree.

While US federal law allows states to opt out of observing daylight time and stay on standard time — as is the case in Arizona and Hawaii — it currently does not allow states to adopt permanent daylight time.

The US Senate bill, called the Sunshine Protection Act, would change that and put the whole country in permanent daylight time starting in November 2023, except for Arizona and Hawaii, which would be allowed to remain on standard time.

Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio had introduced the same bill four times since 2018 before it finally came to a vote on the Senate floor and passed.

“Just this past weekend, we all went through that biannual ritual of changing the clock back and forth and the disruption that comes with it. And one has to ask themselves, why do we keep doing it?” Rubio said on the floor of the Senate. “The good news is if we can get this passed, we don’t have to keep doing this stupidity anymore.”

BC Premier John Horgan applauded the Senate’s approval of the bill and said he was “pleased to see progress from Washington, DC”

“For British Columbia families who have just had to cope with the disruptions of changing the clocks, this brings us another step toward ending the time changes permanently,” he tweeted on Tuesday.

The bill still needs to be passed in the House of Representatives and signed by US President Joe Biden before it becomes law. Whether the bill will be considered by the House for a vote is largely contingent on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has the power to decide which bills make it to the floor of the chamber.

A spokesperson for Pelosi declined to say if she supports the measure but told Reuters that she was reviewing it closely. The White House has also not said whether Biden supports it.

In Canada, permanent daylight time is currently only observed in northwestern BC, Creston, BC, Yukon and most of Saskatchewan. Southeastern Labrador, Nunavut’s Southampton Island and two communities in northern Ontario are also on permanent standard time.

In October 2021, Alberta voters rejected a proposal to adopt year-round daylight time in a referendum. Across the province, 50.2 per cent of Albertans voted “no” to the proposal while 49.8 per cent voted “yes.”

With files from Reuters.

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