Good news, Canada: In just a few weeks, millions of us will set our clocks forward, marking the beginning of daylight saving time for 2024.
Daylight saving time will begin this year on Sunday, March 10 at 2 a.m. local time. While we might lose an hour of sleep by “springing forward,” it also marks the day when we’ll begin to notice those longer daylight hours.
Canadians in most time zones should set their manual devices ahead an hour on Saturday, Mar. 9 before they head to bed. Smartphones, smartwatches and other digital and wi-fi enabled devices, however, will likely automatically adjust while you’re sleeping. (It doesn’t hurt to check them when you wake up on Mar. 10, just to be sure!)
What is daylight saving time?
Daylight saving time is the eight-month-long period between March and November when the majority of the country adjusts their clocks.
By “springing forward” in March, we allow for more daylight in the spring and summer months. By “falling back” in November, we allow more daylight in the mornings.
Not all Canadians adhere to daylight saving time. Yukon, most of Saskatchewan, and some parts of Quebec, Ontario and B.C. stay on standard time all year round.
When did daylight saving time start in Canada?
Daylight saving time first came into practice in Canada in 1908, after it was first proposed in 1895 by by New Zealand entomologist George Hudson. He proposed the change because it would allow him more daylight hours to find and inspect insects.
The first documented cases of daylight saving adopted in the world happened right here in Canada. The small towns of Port Arthur and Fort William — which would eventually merge to become Thunder Bay, Ont. — adopted daylight saving on May 1, 1908.
One resident, John Hewitson, wanted to give working folk an extra hour of daylight for after-work leisure activities.
Several years later, the German Empire and Austria-Hungary were the first international countries to enact daylight saving time in 1916, as a way to save coal and fuel during the First World War.
Why is daylight saving time controversial?
While the argument behind the clock shift is to maximize sunlight in the Northern Hemisphere over the warmer months and add an hour of sunlight to the end of the workday, the benefits of this change are controversial, and some argue the shift can have measurable impacts on health.
Doctors from the University of Turku in Finland have suggested that the risk of strokes and heart attacks increases by seven per cent following the time change.
A study in the New England Journal of Medicine, too, previously reported there is also the risk of an eight percent jump in car crashes the day after a time change.
Additionally, Canadian researchers warn that daylight saving, and switching the clocks twice a year, can contribute to a phenomenon known as “social jet lag,” where people suffer from disrupted sleep and sleep debt, mental and physical fatigue, metabolism issues and more.
And while experts agree that the change in the springtime hits us harder, there are also downsides to the change in the fall.
With less evening light and shortened days, there is a tendency to be less active in the evening, Wendy Hall, a B.C. nurse and professor emeritus at the University of British Columbia, told Global News in 2021.
The return to standard time in the fall has also been linked to depression and seasonal affective disorder, where people often feel more depressed because of shorter exposure to daylight, Hall said.
The changing of the clocks has been a topic of debate in Canada for many years, with provincial politicians in Alberta, B.C. and Ontario wanting to scrap the century-old practice.
Any province wanting to scrap daylight saving has faced delays in putting new practices into place or is waiting for American states in the same time zones to pull the trigger.
— With files from Global News’ Kevin Neilsen, Saba Aziz and Ahmar Khan