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Atlantic premiers adopt wait-and-see approach on changing to permanent daylight time

The United States Senate unanimously approved a bill last week that would make daylight time permanent across that country in 2023
New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs speaks with the media after raising flags with a local Indigenous leader in front of the legislature as part of National Indigenous Peoples Day, in Fredericton, N.B., on Monday June 21, 2021. Atlantic Canada’s premiers say they won’t move ahead on their own in establishing permanent daylight time. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Stephen MacGillivray

HALIFAX — Atlantic Canada’s premiers are holding off on any move toward permanent daylight time until they see what neighbouring jurisdictions do.

The premiers told reporters in Halifax Monday that it doesn’t make sense at this point to make the time change on their own.

“If that were to happen, we would have to act collectively here in some way,” Prince Edward Island Premier Dennis King said, following the first in-person meeting of the Atlantic premiers since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Daylight time is defined as a period between spring and fall when clocks are set one hour ahead of standard time.

The issue was on the premiers' agenda because the United States Senate unanimously approved a bill last week that would make daylight time permanent across that country in 2023. The bill still needs approval from the House of Representatives.

New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs said any potential change in Atlantic Canada this year is “probably unlikely.”

“I don’t think it’s anything that we are pursuing in an expedited manner,” Higgs said. “If we see movement in the U.S., Ontario and Quebec, then certainly that would have an impact.”

The premiers of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, P.E.I. and Newfoundland and Labrador said Monday they also discussed the idea of a regional approach to health care and of reviving a previous push to harmonize licensing requirements to allow easier movement between the four provinces by health professionals.

In 2019, the Council of Atlantic Premiers called for common licensing for doctors, nurses and other health professionals, but the work lost momentum with a subsequent change in leadership in three of the four provinces.

“I would think that one of the lessons learned from COVID-19 … is that health-care mobility is important,” Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey said.

Furey, who is also a physician, described the initiative as “active” once again.

“We are very well trained in Canada and once you are licensed in any jurisdiction, there is no reason to think that you shouldn’t be able to practise medicine somewhere else,” he said.

Energy security and the Atlantic Loop energy corridor were also prominent on the agenda. The estimated $5-billion loop proposal would connect the four provinces to hydroelectricity from Quebec and Labrador.

Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston, chair of the council, said it was important for federal Infrastructure Minister Dominic LeBlanc to participate in the two-day meetings, which began Sunday. 

“I do believe the federal government understands the importance of protecting ratepayers in balance with the greening of the (energy) grid,” Houston said.

However, there’s been no firm commitment for funding as of yet from Ottawa, and Higgs said he believes it will likely take seven or eight years to get the loop “up and functional.”

Higgs said that in the meantime, there are “lots of energy solutions that we have talked about collectively in our respective regions.”

Furey said those solutions could include hydroelectricity and offshore oil. “We have an abundance of both and we can play an important role with respect to energy security in Atlantic Canada, Canada and worldwide right now,” he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 21, 2022.

— With files from The Associated Press.

Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press

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