Will daylight saving time become permanent? Why making the change is tough

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Can daylight saving time be made permanent?
WATCH ABOVE: Can daylight saving time be made permanent? – Mar 6, 2024

People across the continent are getting ready to change up their clocks as much of Canada and the U.S. is set to spring ahead to daylight saving time (DST) this Sunday. But for Canadians tired of the time jumps, could jurisdictions in the country actually manage to make DST permanent?

Peter Graefe, associate professor of political science at McMaster University, said it won’t be easy. “It’s difficult because it’s a collective action problem,” he said.

“If all the provinces and the states move at the same time, then we’re all in the sort of same relationship with each other. Whereas if just certain provinces were going to move, then suddenly they would be off-kilter with their neighbouring states and provinces.”

According to some historians and archivists, DST originated around 1908 and 1909 in what is now Thunder Bay, Ont.

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But the province where it likely began has indicated that it wants to end the time-change system. In 2020, the Ontario legislature unanimously passed a private member bill called ‘The Time Amendment Act’, which sought to make DST permanent.

While some jurisdictions in Canada, including Yukon and Saskatchewan, have permanent DST, Graefe said many will look to Canada’s most populous province as a bellwether. “I suspect other provinces would see whether the sky fell or not if Ontario was to be the first mover,” he said.

But Ontario is looking for cues south of the border. The 2020 bill had one key stipulation — Ontario would only move on DST if New York and Quebec did.

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“Economic problems would be caused if you have a single mover rather than having everyone move together,” Graefe said.

British Columbia, too, took a big swing in this direction with a 2019 law that would make the change permanent, but it did not set a date for the change. The province said it wanted to align with Washington, Oregon and California. All three West Coast states have passed their own bills to remain permanently on DST.

Proponents of permanent DST saw some hope in 2022, when the United States Senate voted to make the change permanent. However, Werner Antweiler, associate professor at UBC Sauder School of Business, told Global News that the bill, dubbed the Sunshine Protection Act, has not made any further progress.

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“The efforts are stalled until the U.S. Congress passes the enabling legislation,” he said. “That then triggers the existing legislation in several U.S. states, and ultimately decides the fate of our own legislation in places (such) as B.C. that are waiting to move to adopt year-round DST if/when it aligns with the U.S. states in the same time zone.

Click to play video: 'Daylight Saving Time: When will B.C. scrap the seasonal time change?'
Daylight Saving Time: When will B.C. scrap the seasonal time change?

A report published in the Canadian Journal of Public Health on Friday noted that the March switchover disturbs the circadian rhythms of Canadians.

“The March switch to DST is the one that induces the most disruptions since it forces a misalignment of the photoperiod that will continue through the next 8 months,” the report read.

It added, “The potential one hour loss of sleep can contribute to the immediate negative impact of DST on daytime functioning, physical and mental health issues, as well as reduced overall performances.”


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