Toronto Star

Alberta says ‘no’ to permanent daylight-saving time, putting it out of step with other provinces

Orignally published on 2021-10-26 23:46:00 by

EDMONTON—Albertans narrowly voted against switching to permanent daylight-saving time this week even while other provinces have decided the time is right to stop changing clocks twice a year.

The results in Alberta were within a sliver of each other — the “yes” to permanent daylight-saving time side received 49.8 per cent support while the “no” side got 50.2 per cent, according to Elections Alberta, which released the numbers from last week’s referendum on Tuesday.

That means every year, Albertans will continue to move their clocks forward an hour in spring and back an hour in the fall (this is known as the spring forward, fall back model). Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s government has indicated it will respect the wish of voters.

However, they’ll be out of line with neighbours B.C. and Saskatchewan. Ontario, is also on the cusp of making the switch to permanent daylight-saving time.

As far as sleep experts are concerned, Albertans chose right on this one while other provinces may see an increase in health consequences and accidents in their new permanent daylight-saving time world.

Those same experts argue most people would be better off living on standard time instead of daylight-saving time — the hours used for summer.

Patricia Lakin-Thomas, a biologist at York University, says the only reason it’s appealing to some is that “people have more light in the afternoon” to enjoy activities.

Lakin-Thomas said everyone from golfers wanting more time on the golf course to officials wanting to conserve energy during the Second World War have liked the idea of daylight-saving time, but that “it never had any benefits.” Nor did it end up conserving energy, she added.

“It’s absolutely the wrong thing to be doing in the winter when people forget that if it’s light later in the afternoon, it’s also sunrise later in the morning,” she said.

She said to imagine the practical implications for going to work and school.

“Staying on summertime — daylight-saving time — all year round means the sun will not rise in a place like Toronto until 9 a.m.,” Lakin-Thomas said.

“In parts of Alberta, the sun isn’t going to rise until about 10 a.m. (on permanent daylight-saving time).”

Michael Antle, a professor of psychology at the University of Calgary, says standard time matches people’s circadian rhythm better than daylight-saving time.

“Our body clock has to follow the sun, and that’s the only thing it can do,” he said. “When your social clock is offset from what the sun is doing, then that leads to what they call social jet lag.

“That’s when diseases can increase, on the job accidents can increase and people just aren’t functioning optimally,” he added.

Research has found that people can experience higher rates of obesity, heart disease and diabetes if the circadian rhythm is out of line, said Antle.

“People who have later sunsets sleep less,” he said.

But what Antle is more concerned about is collisions. In the winter, people will be getting up before their circadian clock is ready, he said.

“That’s going to have sleepy workers, sleepy students and sleepy drivers,” he said.

Ontario is currently waiting to proclaim a bill it passed in 2020 that would also see exactly it move to permanent daylight-saving time.

In a statement to the Star, Ministry of the Attorney General spokesperson Kerstie Schreyer said Ontario would proclaim the bill — Bill 214, Time Amendment Act, 2020 — once neighbouring jurisdictions such as Quebec and New York also make the switch.

This would be done to “ensure coordination in areas such as trade, the stock markets and broadcasting,” said Schreyer.

Like Alberta, B.C. also put the daylight-saving time question to its citizens, although in a survey.

An overwhelming majority of respondents said “yes” in 2019, with 93 per cent supporting the move to permanent daylight savings. Premier John Horgan’s government passed legislation that would slot the province in line with neighbouring U.S. states.

In the U.S., some of those states, such as Washington and Oregon, also signalled the desire to switch, but time changes like that must be approved by the federal government.

B.C.’s switch to permanent daylight-saving time has been pushed ahead due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Saskatchewan already effectively observes daylight-saving time and doesn’t switch its clocks, making things awkward for residents of Lloydminster, a town that straddles the Albertan border with Saskatchewan.

The town of roughly 30,000 falls out of step with Saskatchewan for much of the year when it changes its clocks in line with Alberta.

Orignally published on 2021-10-26 23:46:00 by

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