Canada a step closer to permanent daylight time as U.S. Senate passes bill

Click to play video: 'U.S. legislation could mean end of Daylight Savings Time in B.C.'
U.S. legislation could mean end of Daylight Savings Time in B.C.
WATCH: U.S. legislation could mean end of Daylight Savings Time in B.C. – Mar 15, 2022

There’s some hopeful news from across the border for Canadians tired of switching their clocks back and forth twice a year.

In a unanimous vote on Tuesday, the U.S. Senate passed a bill, called the Sunshine Protection Act, that could make daylight time permanent next year and bring an end to the long-running, twice-a-year flip.

While the legislation still needs approval from the House of Representatives before President Joe Biden can sign it into law, the move is being welcomed with renewed optimism by Canadian provinces waiting to follow the lead of American states in the same time zone.

British Columbia passed legislation in 2019 to switch to daylight time permanently, but did not set a date because the province wants to align the change with Washington, Oregon and California. All three West Coast states have passed their own bills to remain permanently on daylight time.

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Reacting to the U.S. Senate approval, B.C. Premier John Horgan said the province is now “well positioned to do away with the time changes once and for all and move to permanent DST (daylight saving time).”

“For B.C. families who have just had to cope with the disruptions of changing the clocks, the U.S. Senate bill passed today brings us another step toward ending the time changes in our province for good,” said a statement from Horgan’s office emailed to Global News on Tuesday.

Click to play video: 'Ways to manage side effects of Daylight Saving Time'
Ways to manage side effects of Daylight Saving Time

In 2020, Ontario tabled and unanimously passed a private members bill called the “The Time Amendment Act.” That bill amended the Time Act to make daylight saving time permanent year-round.

Ontario MPP Jeremy Roberts, who proposed the daylight saving bill, said the U.S. Senate approval was a “huge step forward.”

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“We’re going to be following the U.S. progress very closely,” Roberts told Global News in a phone interview on Tuesday.

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However, The Time Amendment Act is conditional upon both New York state and Quebec coming on board, he said.

“If we did this without bringing Quebec along as well, we have a weird situation where half the federal government was on one time and half on the other, folks would be missing meetings and phone calls, so I think it would just be a big logistical nightmare,” Roberts said.

“Hopefully this move by the U.S. Senate today can give us some momentum to get Quebec on board as well.”

The Quebec government has indicated it is receptive to ditching the time change, but “discussions are necessary,” said a spokesperson for the province’s minister of justice.

“Quebec cannot go at it alone. If we were to move forward, it would have to be concerted action with other (regions) neighbouring Quebec, such as Ontario,” said Élisabeth Gosselin.

Click to play video: 'Locals weigh in on Daylight Saving Time debate'
Locals weigh in on Daylight Saving Time debate

Contentious issue

The changing of the clocks has become a controversial topic over the years in Canada.

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Currently, only Yukon and most of Saskatchewan observe permanent daylight time.

The idea behind DST is to conserve energy and make better use of the daylight during spring and summer when the days are longer.

The issue of time change was also on the ballot during Alberta’s municipal elections last year.

Albertans were asked: “Do you want Alberta to adopt year-round Daylight Saving Time?” — eliminating the need to change our clocks twice a year.

More than 50 per cent said no, voting in favour of keeping with the status quo.

Click to play video: 'Daylight vs. Standard time: What’s better?'
Daylight vs. Standard time: What’s better?

While there are still some hurdles to clear in the U.S. before daylight time becomes permanent, if it is passed into law there, the switch would be immediate at least in B.C., said Stewart Prest, a lecturer in political science at Simon Fraser University.

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“If it happens at the level of Congress, then essentially the cabinet in B.C. would be empowered to make any necessary regulatory changes to put that into effect,” he said.

“But if another province has not made such a legislation then they would still have to go ahead and change their legislation,” Prest added.

Click to play video: 'U.S. push to stop time change has Canadians mulling idea'
U.S. push to stop time change has Canadians mulling idea

The Canadian Society for Chronobiology recommends permanently switching to year-round standard time.

In a previous interview with Global News, Patricia Lakin-Thomas, a CSC member and an expert on chronobiology, said the worst choice would be to go to daylight time year-round because that means we will be “jetlagged permanently.”

“The best choice would be for us to go on year-round standard time,” she said.


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