Daylight savings might be no more next year

John Horgan hopes that this will be the last time British Columbians have to set their clocks forward

You may have noticed the sun setting earlier and days feeling shorter as the temperatures drop.

On Nov. 7, clocks should automatically or manually be adjusted to go back an hour at 2 a.m. in most time zones across Canada. However, the Yukon, most of Saskatchewan and some parts of British Columbia and Quebec stay on standard time.

The changing of the clocks has become a controversial topic over the years with provincial politicians in B.C. and Ontario wanting to do away with the century-old practice. Ontario tabled and unanimously passed a private members bill called the “The Time Amendment Act,” in 2020. The B.C. legislature passed similar legislation in 2019, but the process has been delayed due to American states in the same time zone not having followed the suit yet.

The idea behind the clock shift is to maximize sunlight in the Northern Hemisphere, as days start to lengthen in the spring and then wane in the fall. The logic is that by springing forward and falling back, people add an hour of sunlight to the end of the workday. But the benefits of this change are controversial, and the shift can have measurable impacts on health.

B.C. Premier John Horgan says he hopes when British Columbians set their clocks forward Sunday morning, it will be the last time they do it. “I’ve heard from businesses, I’ve heard with people, they want to stay in contact with the Pacific time zone. We’re going to be watching closely how that happens,” Horgan. Additionally, he concluded with “Let’s hope that this is the last time,” he said.

Tara Holmes of Stop the Time Change B.C. said “last spring would have been the perfect time to stay on daylight saving time permanently, as Yukon did last March”.

Also, “COVID certainly took priority, and it should, but stopping the time change is not a controversial topic,” she said. “It’s non-partisan and it doesn’t cost anything.”

The pandemic meant fewer planes were flying and more people were staying home. “If there was a time to try it, that would have been the time to do it when everything was in a bit of a slower pace.”

Holmes said she hopes B.C. sticks with daylight saving time permanently after the spring adjustment, even if it means we’re out-of-step with our U.S. neighbours.

A U.S. study found that there was a 0.7 per cent reduction in traffic fatalities with DST. Alternatively, there are also studies that show an increase in traffic fatalities when people lose an hour of sleep and consequently, fewer fatalities later when they get an additional hour.

While daylight saving might increase daylight hours for leisure and recreation activities, it also affects our health in negative ways, such as an increase in the number of heart attacks and a jump in the suicide rate. A study by the University of Alabama at Birmingham researcher, showed a 10 per cent jump in the number of heart attacks after an hour’s sleep is lost in the spring and the opposite effect is true in the fall. The biggest associated factors in the 2012 study were sleep deprivation, changes to the body’s circadian rhythm and a similar “body clock” change associated with the body’s immune system.