On Sunday at 2am, daylight saving time ends and we “fall back” one hour to be on standard time. (You can sleep through it. The phone companies will take care of changing the time on the cell network, just don't be surprised in the morning when your phone shows 10 o'clock and the microwave claims it's 11.) Say goodbye to waking up for work in the dark and say hello to the sun setting before dinner time. Also get ready for the time change to prompt the latest round of debate surrounding our clock-changing tradition, echoing recent bills passed by the US Senate, British Columbia and Ontario that seek to make daylight saving time permanent year-round.
The world’s first daylight saving time was observed in Thunder Bay, Ontario in 1908. In following years a few other cities followed this lead, and during World War 1 the time change became national to increase wartime productivity. After the war Canada stopped switching its clocks, but when WW2 broke out we sprang forward again and observed DST year-round for the duration of the war. Today, everywhere in Canada switches the time twice a year, except for Saskatchewan, which sticks with central standard time year-round, and the Yukon and parts of northeastern British Columbia, which stay on Pacific daylight time.
Altering something as integral as time itself is pretty complicated, logistically speaking, so none of the jurisdictions that have passed bills to make DST permanent have actually done so yet. BC won’t switch to permanent DST until Washington, Oregon and California do, while Ontario is waiting on New York State and Quebec. But conversations about ditching the time change are continuing across North America, so it’s possible that Nova Scotia could abolish the spring-forward-fall-back routine in coming years.
To get ahead of things, with the fall back approaching we asked our readers if we should ditch the time change. The vast majority of you said yes. Across our polls on our website and Twitter, 84.3% of you said we should keep the clocks consistent year-round.
While most of you agreed that you don’t want our circadian rhythms thrown out of whack twice a year, there was some debate over which clock we should actually stick with. “Daylight saving time is more beneficial for so many reasons. Folks who have seasonal disorders suffer for at least half the year when the time changes. Everyone needs as much sunshine as possible,” writes Anne Boudreau. Another commenter, Kevin Robertson, added “stay on DST please. More people can be home before dark then! Dusk is a dangerous time for pedestrians and cars.”
Some think staying on standard time year-round is the better option. “Love DST in the spring when it opens up the evenings. But permanent DST would force everyone up and about in the dark as it is getting colder outside. Double misery,” Gloria Hardy writes. The Canadian Society for Chronobiology argues earlier sunrises are better for our circadian rhythms and a switch to DST would cause “social jet-lag” and an increase in chronic health issues.
And there are those who think we should stick with what we’ve got. “Personally, I feel it makes sense to change with the seasons, to take advantage of having more useful daylight hours," writes Jacqueline de Mestral. "If you think this too difficult, can I assume that you won't be travelling because the time changes are just so disruptive?”