Daylight Saving Time:
fall back Sunday, sleep late

TORONTO – This Sunday, most Canadians will roll back the clock one hour when Daylight Saving time (DST) ends. The ritual caps off the bi-annual clock change that started on March 14 when clocks sprang forward one hour. But is DST still necessary?

It has been used in Canada, parts of the US and most European countries for over a century. The practice was originally introduced to save energy during the war and to make better use of the daylight hours. For just as long as the practice has existed, the debate around its necessity continues.

The discussion over the possible elimination of the bi-annual time change appears to be gaining momentum. An overwhelming majority of Canadians support the idea of making DST permanent. That could result in the end to the “Fall back” and “Spring forward” time change.

According to a survey conducted by Narrative Research, a Canadian-based market research company, results suggest 85% of Canadians support the elimination of the bi-annual changes.

Currently, only some Canadian locations do not observe DST. For instance, Yukon, most of Saskatchewan, some portions of Quebec and British Columbia stay in standard time all year.

During last month’s municipal elections in Alberta, 50.2% of Albertans voted to keep the status quo of DST.

In November 2020, Ontario passed legislation (Bill 214) that would put an end to the bi-annual clock alteration. The only caveat is that Quebec and New York (NY) must join Ontario for the law to come into effect. That contingent is to ensure that there is no disruption in cross-jurisdictional trade and commerce.

Ottawa West – Nepean MPP Jeremy Roberts first introduced the Bill in October 2020. “It took Ontario 55 days from start to finish to introduce and pass this Bill. Let’s hope our neighbours join Ontario,” Roberts wrote in an email to the Corriere.

In the meantime, he said he wrote a letter to politicians in Quebec and New York asking them to join Ontario. Thus far, Quebec Premier Legault has indicated that he is “open” to the idea of a permanent DST. A similar bill before the NY State Legislature is contingent upon the repeal of the federal law that established DST and on the support of neighbouring jurisdictions.

There is no standard formula to measure the risks versus the benefits of altering the clocks twice a year. However, some studies suggest that changing the clocks could have negative impacts which have been linked to an increased risk in things like seasonal depression, heart attack and stroke, fatal automobile accidents and sleep disruption.

Conversely, adopting a permanent DST, could boost economic activity. By ending the twice-yearly clock changes, lighter evenings prompt people to be more active in their community which may lead to more consumerism and possibly mitigate the risks listed above.

Sounds like a no-brainer.

P. Pajdo is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

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