Higgs backs call to keep daylight time year-round

·3 min read

Premier Blaine Higgs says he likes the idea of using daylight time year-round and will adopt it if the other Maritime provinces go along.

Higgs was responding to Liberal Opposition Leader Roger Melanson, who suggested the idea in a news release Tuesday morning.

Ontario has passed legislation to make the change if Quebec and New York State agree to do it.

"I think it's a golden opportunity for us to do the same thing," Higgs said in an interview. "There are pros and cons of course, but I think stability in this — going to one time zone, a daylight savings time area — would be appropriate."

Higgs said he wouldn't proceed until Ontario and Quebec do, and even then it would be contingent on the two other Maritime provinces also going along with it.

"It would be part of a redefined Atlantic bubble," the premier joked.

CBC News file photo
CBC News file photo

Higgs said legislation could come in the current session of the legislature.

"It is something worth considering and worth moving on, actually," he said. "I see no reason not to."

Melanson said the idea is catching on quickly, and "we've got to make a decision if we want to be early on with this trend or on the tail end of this trend."

Under Melanson's proposal, New Brunswickers would move their clocks ahead by an hour next March and then leave them there, rather than moving them back again next fall.

He said there's ample evidence the current twice-a-year change, particularly the "loss" of an hour in the fall, can affect people's health.

"When you have to drink an extra coffee when the time changes, it means there's something happening to people's minds and certainly bodies," he says.

Jacques Poitras/CBC file photo
Jacques Poitras/CBC file photo

Strong support in N.B.

A recent poll by Halifax-based Narrative Research and the Logit Group found 91 per cent of New Brunswick respondents would support the change, the highest of any province in Canada.

But at least one Fredericton parent says the change would be a bad idea that would force young children to walk to school or catch the bus in the dark for a good part of the school year.

Rob Hoadley said the city's location in the western part of the Atlantic time zone would see the sun rising around 9 a.m. in the depth of winter.

Hoadley has two elementary-school-age children and a third who will soon be school age.

"We would see almost pitch darkness at this time of year, at that time, when the kids are showing up" at school.

Whether they walk to school or catch the bus, he said, "I think that has safety concerns for the kids."

The gain of an extra hour of sunlight at the end of the day in winter isn't enough to outweigh that, Hoadley said.

"Having it set at 6 p.m. doesn't really accomplish anything for me."

Asked about more kids walking to school in the dark for a longer part of the winter, Melanson said, "we need to look at the benefits of this and see if it outweighs the inconvenience.

"There'll be an adjustment, but there'll be an adjustment once. Now we have to have an adjustment twice a year."

Melanson said he'd like to see the other Maritime provinces sign on "so we could hopefully do this in a synchronized fashion," but said New Brunswick's decision shouldn't be contingent on a regional agreement.