Time in Canada
Canada is divided into six time zones, based on proposals by Scottish Canadian railway engineer Sandford Fleming, who pioneered the use of the 24-hour clock, the world's time zone system, and a standard prime meridian. Most of Canada operates on standard time from the first Sunday in November to the second Sunday in March and daylight saving time the rest of the year.
The National Research Council (NRC) maintains Canada's official time through the use of atomic clocks. The official time is specified in legislation passed by the individual provinces. In Quebec it is based on coordinated universal time. The other provinces use mean solar time. The NRC provides both coordinated universal time and mean solar time in its signals. It makes time servers available for direct synchronization with computers. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has aired a daily time signal, the National Research Council Time Signal, since November 5, 1939.
The Government of Canada recommends use of the 24-hour clock (e.g. 05:34), which is widely used in contexts such as transportation schedules, parking meters, and data transmission. Speakers of Canadian French predominantly use this system, but most users of Canadian English use the 12-hour clock in everyday speech (e.g. 5:34 a.m.), even when reading from a 24-hour display, similar to the use of the 24-hour clock in the United Kingdom.
Pacific Time Zone
Pacific Standard Time (PST) GMT−08:00 and Pacific Daylight Time (PDT) GMT−07:00:
- British Columbia (most of the province)
Mountain Time Zone
Mountain Standard Time (MST) GMT−07:00 and Mountain Daylight Time (MDT) GMT−06:00:
- British Columbia, southeastern
- Columbia-Shuswap Regional District east of the Selkirk Mountains
- Regional District of East Kootenay
- Regional District of Central Kootenay east of the Kootenay River and some parts east of Kootenay Lake that are south of and including Riondel (but not Creston, which is MST year round, and Kootenay Bay–Crawford Bay area, which is Pacific Daylight Time)
- Northwest Territories, except for Tungsten (see above), two fishing lodges in the southeast and a mine site in the southwest[note 1]
- Nunavut ( )
- Saskatchewan ( )
- Lloydminster and surrounding area (the municipal government chose to unify the entire city with Alberta's time zone)
Mountain Standard Time (MST) GMT−07:00 year-round:
- British Columbia, northeastern
- British Columbia, southeastern
Central Time Zone
Central Standard Time (CST) GMT−06:00 and Central Daylight Time CDT GMT−05:00:
- Creighton (unofficial)
- Ontario, northwestern
Central Standard Time (CST) GMT−06:00 year-round:
- Saskatchewan (most of the province) (see Lloydminster, and Creighton, above)
Eastern Time Zone
Eastern Standard Time (EST) GMT−05:00 and Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) GMT−04:00:
- east of 85° West, and
- all communities in the Qikiqtaaluk Region except Resolute
- Quebec (most of province)
Eastern Standard Time (EST) GMT−05:00 year-round:
Atlantic Time Zone
Atlantic Standard Time (AST) GMT−04:00 and Atlantic Daylight Time (ADT) GMT−03:00:
- Labrador (all but the southeastern tip)
- New Brunswick
- Nova Scotia
- Prince Edward Island
- Quebec (Magdalen Islands and Listuguj Mi'gmaq First Nation)
Atlantic Standard Time (AST) UTC−04:00 year-round:
Newfoundland Time Zone
Newfoundland Standard Time (NST) GMT−03:30 and Newfoundland Daylight Time (NDT) GMT−02:30:
- Labrador (southeastern)
Former time zones
- The Yukon Time Zone (GMT−09:00) covered Yukon until 1975. In 1983, the zone (then covering only a small portion of Alaska) was restructured to cover most of Alaska and renamed the Alaska Time Zone.
- In 1988, Newfoundland used "double daylight saving time" from April 3 until October 30, meaning that the time was set ahead by 2 hours. All of Newfoundland and southern Labrador, which uses GMT−03:30 as its standard time zone, used GMT−01:30. This only happened in 1988 and the province now only adjusts its time by one hour for daylight saving time.
Daylight saving time
Four Canadian cities, by local ordinance, used daylight saving time in 1916. Brandon, Manitoba, adopted it on April 17. It was followed by Winnipeg on April 23, Halifax on April 30, and Hamilton, Ontario, on June 4. Port Arthur, Ontario, was the first place in the world to introduce it, on July 1, 1908.
Daylight saving time is currently observed in nine of ten provinces and two of three territories, but with exceptions in several provinces and Nunavut. Most of the province of Saskatchewan, despite geographically being in the Mountain Time Zone, observes year-round CST. In 2020, the territory of Yukon abandoned seasonal time change and moved to permanently observing MST year-round. Under the Constitution of Canada, laws related to timekeeping are a purely provincial matter. In practice, since the late 1960s DST across Canada has been closely or completely synchronized with its observance in the United States to promote consistent economic and social interaction. When the United States extended DST in 1987 to the first Sunday in April, all DST-observing Canadian provinces followed suit to mimic the change.
In 2019, the legislature of British Columbia began the process of eliminating the practice of observing daylight saving time in the province. On October 31, 2019, the government introduced Bill 40 in the legislature, which would define "Pacific Time" as "7 hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)". In a press release, the provincial government stated an intention to maintain alignment of clock time with Washington, Oregon, California, and Yukon. The move follows a consultation earlier in 2019, in which the province received over 223,000 responses, 93% of which said they would prefer year-round DST as compared to the status quo of changing the clocks twice a year. The premier of British Columbia discussed the issue with Yukon premier Sandy Silver, who said in October that he needs more consultation with Yukon stakeholders, and with Alberta and Alaska.
The latest United States change (Energy Policy Act of 2005), adding parts of March and November starting in 2007, was adopted by the various provinces and territories on the following dates:
- Ontario and Manitoba – October 20, 2005
- Quebec – December 5, 2005
- Prince Edward Island – December 6, 2005
- New Brunswick – December 23, 2005
- Alberta – February 2, 2006
- Northwest Territories – March 4, 2006
- British Columbia – March 31, 2006
- Nova Scotia – April 25, 2006
- Yukon – July 14, 2006. Year-round MST as of March 8, 2020.
- Newfoundland and Labrador – November 20, 2006, but officially announced on January 18, 2007
- Nunavut – February 19, 2007
- Saskatchewan – No official action was taken, as almost all of the province remains on CST year-round. However, the few places in the province that do observe daylight saving (Lloydminster and the surrounding area, which straddles the Alberta border and observes Alberta's Mountain Time – and Creighton, which observes daylight saving on an unofficial basis due to its proximity to the border with Manitoba) follow the aforementioned March–November schedule just like the rest of the country.
IANA time zone database
|C.c.*||Coordinates*||TZ*||Comments*||UTC offset||UTC offset DST||Notes|
|CA||+4734−05243||America/St_Johns||Newfoundland; Labrador (southeast)||−03:30||−02:30|
|CA||+4439−06336||America/Halifax||Atlantic - NS (most areas); PE||−04:00||−03:00||Plus Îles-de-la-Madeleine and Listuguj Miꞌgmaq First Nation in Quebec.|
|CA||+4612−05957||America/Glace_Bay||Atlantic - NS (Cape Breton)||−04:00||−03:00||Likely includes all of Cape Breton Island.|
|CA||+4606−06447||America/Moncton||Atlantic - New Brunswick||−04:00||−03:00||Like America/Halifax, except DST time change happens at midnight rather than 2:00 a.m.|
|CA||+5320−06025||America/Goose_Bay||Atlantic - Labrador (most areas)||−04:00||−03:00||Places that used Newfoundland Time until 1966.|
|CA||+5125−05707||America/Blanc-Sablon||AST - QC (Lower North Shore)||−04:00||−04:00||East of 63rd meridian west.|
|--||America/Montreal||−05:00||−04:00||Redirects to America/Toronto.|
|CA||+4339−07923||America/Toronto||Eastern - ON, QC (most areas)||−05:00||−04:00||Legally, its western border is 90th meridian west, but there are many de facto exceptions.|
|CA||+4901−08816||America/Nipigon||Eastern - ON, QC (no DST 1967-73)||−05:00||−04:00||Places using Eastern time that did not observe DST 1967–1973.|
|CA||+4823−08915||America/Thunder_Bay||Eastern - ON (Thunder Bay)||−05:00||−04:00||Places in Eastern Time that skipped DST in 1973.|
|CA||+6344−06828||America/Iqaluit||Eastern - NU (most east areas)||−05:00||−04:00|
|CA||+6608−06544||America/Pangnirtung||Eastern - NU (Pangnirtung)||−05:00||−04:00||Places that switched from Atlantic Time to Eastern Time in 1995.|
|CA||+744144−0944945||America/Resolute||Central - NU (Resolute)||−06:00||−05:00||Places in Central Time that skipped DST in 2007.|
|CA||+484531−0913718||America/Atikokan||EST - ON (Atikokan); NU (Coral H)||−05:00||−05:00||Legally CST/CDT, but in practice observes EST year-round.|
|CA||+624900−0920459||America/Rankin_Inlet||Central - NU (central)||−06:00||−05:00|
|CA||+4953−09709||America/Winnipeg||Central - ON (west); Manitoba||−06:00||−05:00||Includes Big Trout Lake and Denare Beach, though by law they should be in America/Toronto and America/Regina, respectively.|
|CA||+4843−09434||America/Rainy_River||Central - ON (Rainy R, Ft Frances)||−06:00||−05:00||Places using Central time that did not observe DST 1967–1973.|
|CA||+5024−10439||America/Regina||CST - SK (most areas)||−06:00||−06:00|
|CA||+5017−10750||America/Swift_Current||CST - SK (midwest)||−06:00||−06:00||Western Saskatchewan towns that used Mountain Time until 1972.|
|CA||+5333−11328||America/Edmonton||Mountain - AB; BC (E); SK (W)||−07:00||−06:00|
|CA||+690650−1050310||America/Cambridge_Bay||Mountain - NU (west)||−07:00||−06:00|
|CA||+6227−11421||America/Yellowknife||Mountain - NT (central)||−07:00||−06:00||East of 120th meridian west.|
|CA||+682059−1334300||America/Inuvik||Mountain - NT (west)||−07:00||−06:00||West of 120th meridian west.|
|CA||+4906−11631||America/Creston||MST - BC (Creston)||−07:00||−07:00||Places in Pacific Time that have not used DST since the database cuttoff date (1970).|
|CA||+5946−12014||America/Dawson_Creek||MST - BC (Dawson Cr, Ft St John)||−07:00||−07:00||Places in Pacific Time that stopped using DST in 1973.|
|CA||+5848−12242||America/Fort_Nelson||MST - BC (Ft Nelson)||−07:00||−07:00|
|CA||+4916−12307||America/Vancouver||Pacific - BC (most areas)||−08:00||−07:00|
|CA||+6043−13503||America/Whitehorse||MST - Yukon (east)||−07:00||−07:00||East of 138th meridian west.|
|CA||+6404−13925||America/Dawson||MST - Yukon (west)||−07:00||−07:00||West of 138th meridian west.|
- Lists of time zones
- Newfoundland's Daylight Saving Act of 1917
- 1972 British Columbia time plebiscite
- Effects of time zones on North American broadcasting
- National Research Council Time Signal
- Date and time notation in Canada
- Creet, Mario (1990). "Sandford Fleming and Universal Time". Scientia Canadensis: Canadian Journal of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine. 14 (1–2): 66–89. doi:10.7202/800302ar.
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- Interpretation Ordinance, YCO 1967/59.