B.C. Premier John Horgan says the “time is now right” to switch to permanent Daylight Saving Time (DST).
On Monday, Horgan told Global News that 93 per cent of British Columbians that participated in the public consultation are in favour of getting rid of seasonal time changes and sticking to DST.
“I believe this is something British Columbians want to see happen and it’s long overdue. There are groups that have been advocating for this for a long, long time and the time is now right,” Horgan said.
“Overwhelming support, you don’t see that on many issues. I think I would be ill-advised not to listen to the public on this one.”
More than 223,000 people filled out an online survey aimed at finding out British Columbians thoughts on seasonal time changes. The full results on that survey will be released by the provincial government on Tuesday.
Horgan is set to meet with Yukon premier Sandy Silver later this month to discuss the territory also moving to permanent DST.
One of the issues B.C. is grappling with is whether to make the change even if California, Oregon and Washington do not. Horgan spoke to Washington Governor Jay Inslee on Monday and informed him about the feedback in B.C.
“Their congressional delegation, led by Senator Patty Murray, is going to push to get the initiative passed this fall. But they can’t get it pased without congressional approval. We don’t need Ottawa to make the change,” Horgan said.
“I advised Governor Inslee today about the magnitude of support. He kind of chuckled. You will remember he got one per cent support in the Democratic primary. He said whenever you see 93 per cent at anything you are on the right track.”
Horgan says it was a “coin flip” in the public survey over whether B.C. should wait for the ‘states or go at it alone.
There is no date set on when the U.S. Congress could vote. Washington, Oregon and California have all approved moving to permanent DST at the state level.
The B.C. government will give the delegation three or four weeks to see if the decision can get pushed through Congress before making a final decision on when B.C. will change. The clocks are scheduled to fall back on Nov. 3.
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Tara Holmes, one of the organizers behind a petition to scrap the time change, said she’s hopeful B.C. will move ahead soon.
“I am really feeling that British Columbia can be the leaders on this and that we don’t need to wait for the states whether they do it or don’t do it,” Holmes said.
“When we start the rest of the country will follow. I think the majority of British Columbians would be happy with that.”
There is significant research showing negative public health effects of the semi-annual time change, though the conclusions are not universal.
One of the most-cited studies, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1996, looked at crash data from 1991 and 1992.
It found an eight per cent jump in collisions the Monday after the clock “sprang forward,” in the spring — and a corresponding decrease of about the same amount the Monday after time “fell back” in the fall.
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A review of 16 traffic studies by a doctor at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre found an increased risk of crashes after the spring time change in six studies, while three indicated a decreased risk, and seven found no significant difference either way.
A 2008 study by researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm published in the New England Journal of Medicine found a five per cent increase in heart attacks in the week after both the spring and fall time changes.
But German researchers, who looked at 25,000 heart attack cases in Germany between 1995 and 2010 found no significant change in heart attacks in the general population — only an increased risk among specific subgroups, such as men who had previously experienced heart attacks.
Holmes says she is ecstatic about the public’s response.
“Oh this is awesome. I actually didn’t know what the number was going to be. And 93 per cent makes me very happy. Am I surprised? No. But just hearing it for real, it’s fantastic,” Holmes said.
“This is so good. Officially I think it’s only a matter of time.”