The Manitoba government is planning to do away with seasonal time changes and move to permanent daylight time, but only if the United States leads the way and the idea gets public support.
Municipal Relations Minister Eileen Clarke introduced a bill in the legislature Thursday that would let the province ditch the annual ritual of moving clocks forward an hour in March and back an hour in November.
The aim, she said, is to stay in sync with trading partners south of the border if the U.S. adopts permanent daylight time.
"We do want to align with them because of the trade corridors and transportation and everything," Clarke said.
Ontario and British Columbia have passed similar laws that are also contingent on states south of the border adopting year-round daylight time. But there is no indication that might happen any time soon. A bill to adopt the change was passed unanimously in the U.S. Senate in March but has stalled in the House of Representatives.
Permanent daylight time was last considered in the United States in 2006. In the end, politicians voted to extend daylight time by three weeks in spring and one week in the fall, and Canadian jurisdictions that change clocks followed suit. Saskatchewan, with the exception of Lloydminster, hasn't changed clocks in over a century.
Manitobans will be consulted on the idea early next year, Clarke said. She admitted feelings are mixed.
"It's a very divided conversation among Manitobans."
Having daylight time year-round would maintain late sunsets in summer, but would also result in later sunrises in winter. In some areas, commuters and schoolchildren would make their morning journey in darkness.
Some sleep experts have said permanent standard time, which would lead to earlier sunrises and sunsets in summer, would be better.
Raymond Lam, a University of British Columbia professor and B.C. leadership chair in depression research, has said standard time is healthier and more in line with the body's circadian rhythm.
Russia experimented with permanent daylight time in 2011 but moved to permanent standard time three years later.
Manitoba's Opposition New Democrats conducted an online survey on time changes in 2019. The party never came to a conclusion.
"The results of that consultation were mixed. There's a lot of great polarized opinions on this question," NDP legislature member Adrien Sala said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 17, 2022