By MPP Toby Barrett
There is a misconception Daylight Savings Time was originally implemented to give farmers more time to harvest their crops. As a farmer, work is often dusk to dawn and beyond – it doesn’t matter what the clock says. Daylight Savings Time was first implemented in the First World War as a way to conserve resources by delaying the need for lights early in the evening during the summer.
Fast-forward more than 100 years and in 2005, legislation was passed in the United States to extend Daylight Savings Time to eight months of the year. Canada followed suit.
Ottawa-West Nepean MPP Jeremy Roberts introduced a Private Member’s Bill which proposes the bi-annual time change ends and the province moves to permanent Daylight Savings Time.
Many have questioned the logic in Daylight Savings Time in the modern era, saying the time change results in health problems. A Danish study found depression levels spiked as much as eight per cent in early November after the “Fall Back”. Various US studies found both a 24 per cent increase in heart attacks amongst higher-risk populations following the “Spring Forward” time change and an eight per cent increase in strokes.
Time change fatigue has also been linked to an increase in accidents. One study, published in the Journal of Sleep Medicine, found a 10-per cent increase in fatal collisions as a result of the time change. Another, published in the Journal of the American Psychological Association, found a sizeable amount of workplace injuries associated with this phenomenon.
The Journal of Biological Rhythms argues that up until 200 years ago humans organized their daily routines by the rotation of the earth around the sun in synchrony with their body clock – hence their strong recommendation to have government choose permanent Standard Time.
With more people in Haldimand-Norfolk commuting to jobs in cities, permanent Daylight Savings Time will mean they can complete the commute home with some daylight.
We can also see a decrease in productivity linked to the time change. A joint-German/British study found their citizens experienced “non-negligible losses of utility” after losing an hour of sleep.
South of the border, the move to end the time change is stronger with many suggesting now it is more imperative with forecasts of growing depression related to COVID-19 restrictions. Studies have shown less retail activity after the time change and ending it could be a measure to kick-start the economy.
On top of all the other evidence, the majority of the world – 79 per cent – does not observe the time change. Saskatchewan and the Yukon have already ditched it. Alberta and B.C. are contemplating it.
But, even if Roberts’ bill passes, it’s not as simple as the stroke of a pen. With the federal government in Ottawa-Gatineau being in two provinces, Quebec following suit is essential. So too must New York for our financial markets to remain in synch, and Michigan as our border cities are intertwined.
If the time change was to end, the question remains will we move to Daylight Savings Time or Standard Time. This is a topic of much debate, with standard time advocates putting forward the argument that it more closely aligns with the natural time from the sun.
Only time will tell when, and if, the time change will end and what form those changes will result in.
Toby Barrett is the MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk