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Higgs says he would drop biannual time change in a ‘heartbeat’ if other provinces join

Click to play video 'N.B. Premier says he would drop biannual time change if other provinces join' N.B. Premier says he would drop biannual time change if other provinces join
WATCH: Each year in the spring Canadians set their clocks an hour forward, then move them back again in the fall. The biannual time change has been standard procedure for as long as anyone can remember, but some in New Brunswick are beginning to talk about ditching the practice. Silas Brown has more. – Dec 2, 2020

New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs says the idea of discontinuing biannual time changes is worth looking at, if neighbouring provinces were interested in making the change as well.

“For me, I’d like to see the Atlantic provinces be together on this and we basically adopt it [together],” Higgs said in an interview.

“I’d do it in a heartbeat.”

Higgs says he will raise the matter with the other Atlantic premiers and would consider passing preemptive legislation that would clear the way for the change somewhere down the line.

Global News reached out to the premiers of Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia to get their thoughts on doing away with time changes but has not received a response.

Read more: Ontario MPPs pass bill to end biannual clock changes, but Quebec and New York would need to sign on

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Ontario recently passed similar legislation, opting to move permanently to Daylight Time, pending twin changes in Quebec and New York State. British Columbians voted overwhelmingly to move to Daylight Time in a government survey in 2019, but the province is holding off until California, Oregon and Washington State ditch the time change as well.

Saskatchewan stopped moving to Daylight Time in 1966, remaining permanently on Standard Time ever since.

Click to play video 'Ask an Expert: the psychological impact of Daylight Saving Time' Ask an Expert: the psychological impact of Daylight Saving Time
Ask an Expert: the psychological impact of Daylight Saving Time – Nov 1, 2020

Liberal leader Roger Melanson proposed the idea on Tuesday, saying it was first raised with him about 25 years ago when he was a  young political staffer.

“In the last few weeks I said to myself, this makes sense,” Melanson said in an interview. “We hear people all the time that they have a hard time the few days after the time change either in the fall or the spring. People have to have an extra cup of coffee.”

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“I think it’s having an impact on people mentally and certainly physically.”

In terms of the preference, if New Brunswick were to take the plunge and ditch time changes, Melanson said he has heard many say they prefer moving to Daylight Time. Higgs said that the issues should be looked at before making a decision either way.

Read more: Ontario MPP puts forward bill to make Daylight Saving Time standard time

Most jurisdictions opting to make the change have decided to remain on Daylight Time, but one psychologist warns that may not be the best choice.

“I am of course in favour of abolishing the time changes, but I am also against Daylight Time,” said Dr. Joseph De Koninck, professor emeritus at the University of Ottawa.

“There is strong evidence that we should go back to how humanity evolved which is solar time, or Standard Time.”

De Koninck says that having more light in the evening “systematically reduces sleep” as people tend to stay up later. The biological clocks of human beings are linked with sunlight, and morning light, in particular, is important to the proper functioning of those internal clocks.

“Normally humanity has evolved with humans being a daylight active animal,” he said. “That’s how our biological clock is built up and determines everything our bodies do, from when we are hungry, to when we need to go to the bathroom, to when we are more intellectually active, when we are more physically active.”

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“All these things are synchronized.”

Read more: Toronto researchers push to eliminate Daylight Saving Time, switch permanently to Standard Time

The push and pull of losing an hour in the spring and gaining an hour in the fall is extremely disruptive to this internal clock, De Koninck says. But moving to Daylight Time permanently not only reduces sleep, which can have an impact on overall mental and physical health, it also means less light during the morning, particularly during the winter.

De Koninck pointed out that Russia moved to Daylight Time in 2011, but quickly opted to move to Standard Time in 2014.

According to the website SunCalc.org the sunrise on Dec.. 21, 2020, the shortest day of the year, will be at 8:05 am. A switch to Daylight Time would mean the sun wouldn’t be up until 9:05 am.

“If our sleep isn’t synchronized with light then our sleep is disrupted,” De Koninck said. “Sleep is the common denominator for physical and mental health. If you don’t sleep well, you don’t function well.”

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