B.C. Premier John Horgan says he will encourage other premiers to introduce legislation to eliminate seasonal time changes.
The B.C. government introduced legislation on Thursday that, if passed, gives the province the power to move to permanent Daylight Saving Time. Horgan will be speaking with his colleagues on Friday during pre-arranged calls as part of the Council of the Federation.
“I plan on bringing it up and telling my colleagues what we are doing here and encouraging them to follow suit,” Horgan said.
“Canadians are questioning why we are doing this, why we continue to do this when there are no meaningful consequences other than work being done by experts on sleep deprivation.”
A majority of British Columbians are set to move their clocks back an hour this weekend.
The new legislation creates a time zone called Pacific Time, and allows the Peace Region and the Kootenays to continue their time traditions if they choose. Horgan says the legislation will give these jurisdictions a chance to consider what they want to do moving forward.
The legislation does not automatically mean British Columbians are done changing the clocks after this year. Horgan is still hoping that Oregon, Washington and California will get congressional approval to also move to permanent Daylight Saving Time.
Even if those U.S. states do not get approval by next year, Horgan says his government could decide to make the change without them.
“I suspect that this spring, when we spring forward, if other jurisdictions are with us that is great, but if they are not I’m confident they will catch up,”Horgan said.
“This is not just a B.C. phenomenon. It is a phenomenon across the continent.”
Horgan says he has discussed the issue with Yukon Premier Sandy Silver, who has shown support to move on this with B.C.
Tara Holmes, one of the organizers behind a petition to scrap the time change, said she’s hopeful B.C. will actually enforce the legislation with or without the United States.
“As we know we continue to do trade with Alberta and they’ve been an hour difference from us the whole time,” Holmes said.
“Creston and Cranbrook are right beside each other like Kamloops and Kelowna. They are an hour different. Now that business is done 24/7 and it’s not like the old days, I think they can just go right into it, and the rest of North America is going to follow at some point.”
Sleep experts have expressed concerns over the impact of permanent DST.
Dr. Myriam Juda from Circadian Light Therapy Inc. says year-round DST would mean later sunrises in the winter, leading to decreased exposure to morning sunlight.
“When the exposure to sunlight in the morning is reduced, our biological clocks drift later and later, making it harder to wake up and causing an increased mismatch between the body clock and local time,” Juda said.
“DST also exposes people to more evening light, which further delays the biological clock and makes it more difficult to fall asleep. Both sleep deprivation and social jetlag have negative effects on physical and mental health, including increased risks for diabetes, obesity, heart disease, depression, and some forms of cancer.”
Horgan says it is clear to him that British Columbians prefer Daylight Saving Time to permanent Standard Time. Permanent DST means less light in the day and more at night.
It would also mean that from November to March, B.C. would be on the same time as Alberta and a two-hour difference from Ontario and Quebec. From March until November the time differences would remain like as they currently are.
“I know there will be people that have issues with going to Daylight Saving Time. The consultation made it pretty clear that most people believe that Daylight Saving Time will give them more light during their working day and that is the way we are going to go,” Horgan said.