What would permanent Daylight Saving Time look like in Canada?

What would permanent Daylight Saving Time look like in Canada?
What would permanent Daylight Saving Time look like in Canada?

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It’s a societal upheaval that arrives twice a year like clockwork. Opposing camps argue that this thorny issue is bad for our health, bad for our children, and bad for our economy.

What do we do about Daylight Saving Time (DST)?

Most organized attempts to lock the time year-round focus on making DST—setting the time forward by one hour—our permanent standard. Here’s a glimpse at what permanent DST would look like across Canada.

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Legislation seeking to stop the clock rarely passes

Time is a tough nut to crack. Officials long struggled to create time zones that align with political borders, economic needs, and our own circadian rhythms. Throwing in the concept of ‘springing forward’ and ‘falling back’ makes things even more difficult.

Canada and the U.S. are among dozens of countries that observe this twice-yearly tradition of changing the clocks before going to bed. But it’s a chore that’s faced stiff opposition over the years.

Daylight Saving Time, or summer time, began in the early 1900s as a way to get the most out of longer summer days. Our ‘original’ standard is winter time, the arrangement that brings earlier sunrises and earlier sunsets.

Most efforts to freeze the clock come from proponents of DST who tout the added benefits of later winter sunsets. The most recent organized attempt to memorialize DST occurred in 2022 when the U.S. Congress considered the Sunshine Protection Act.

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While the bill passed the Senate in March 2022, the House never brought the legislation up for a vote and the Sunshine Protection Act died with the end of that Congress the following January.

That ill-fated bill offered a glimmer of hope to Canadians pining for later winter sunsets. One Canadian who welcomed the news was John Horgan, then-Premier of British Columbia.

“For British Columbia families who have just had to cope with the disruptions of changing the clocks, this brings us another step toward ending the time changes permanently,” Horgan tweeted in 2022 in response to the bill’s progress.

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What would year-round DST look like in Canada?

While most of Saskatchewan and the Yukon stick with one time all year, just about everyone in Canada still springs forward in March and falls back in November. The seesaw back and forth can disrupt schedules and sleep cycles alike.

Proponents of DST argue that the benefits outweigh the potential downsides. Steve Calandrillo, professor of law at the University of Washington, argued back in 2020 that year-round DST would make the evening commute safer, reduce crime, help to save energy, and improve quality of sleep.

While more sunlight in the evening would make life a little sweeter for folks who enjoy some outdoors time after they get off work, sticking with DST all year would also pose some oft-overlooked problems.


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The biggest and most obvious change would be the delayed sunrise. Shifting the sunset an hour later would also make the sunrise an hour later, and that extra hour of morning darkness would be a significant adjustment for many folks across Canada.

Sunrise wouldn’t take place until or after 9:00 a.m. for much of the country during the heart of winter. Take sunrise times across the country on New Year’s Day. The first day of the year wouldn’t see the sun rise until 8:51 a.m. in Toronto, 9:07 a.m. in Vancouver, and not until almost 10:00 a.m. in Edmonton.

There are other issues with permanent DST beyond a simple lack of morning sunshine.

Darker mornings would heighten the danger of commuting by foot in cities and neighbourhoods alike, and the time shift would force many young children to walk to school or wait for the bus in the dark during the winter months.

Shifting morning's darkness would also push low visibility and colder temperatures deeper into the morning commute, potentially making your drive into work more hazardous on mornings when roads are icy or covered with snow. It’s tough to navigate a slippery road in traffic under the best conditions, let alone when it’s still pitch black outside.

SEE ALSO: The pros and cons of ditching the time change

If the U.S. Congress ever considers another bill to make DST permanent, there’s no guarantee it would last.

The U.S. experimented with permanent DST back in 1973 in an attempt to save energy. The dark mornings were such a widely despised disruption that Congress reversed course and reinstated seasonal time changes the following year.

Thumbnail courtesy of Venrick Azcueta via Unsplash.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published in March 2022 while the U.S. Congress considered the Sunshine Protection Act. The article was updated in March 2024 to reflect that the bill expired and never passed into law.

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