RESOLVE THAT CANADIANS MOVE TO DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME (DST) FOR THE ENTIRE YEAR

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LET US KEEP SPRINGING FORWARD AND NEVER FALL BACKWARD AGAIN!

Every spring, Canadians in most jurisdictions move their clocks forward one hour sometime in the early hours of a Sunday morning and roll them back in the fall.  While the precise occurrence of the time changes may vary across the country, the changes create the same effects. In the spring, as the clocks are put forward, Canadians have more daylight hours that extend into the evenings and, in the fall, as we roll backward the clocks, we have shorter daylight hours and dark comes earlier to all of us.

Both of these changes can wreak havoc in our daily lives. In the spring, due to the advanced hour, we arise having had an hour less sleep than the previous day and, circadian rhythms being what they are, it can take weeks for some people to adjust to this difference.  But, once the adjustment has been made, the extra daylight hour is wonderful.  Another daylight hour at the end of our work day gives everyone extra time for outdoor recreational activities, shopping in the light and spending time with family and friends, either sitting out on the patio, having an extended visit or walk in the local park. Without exaggeration, it is fairly evident that an extra hour of daylight enhances our day, although many complain that the lost hour of sleep causes them to be sleepy and cranky until they adjust to the earlier morning. Notwithstanding this, after we are well into DST, these symptoms disappear and the happy days pass by with more light.   As the days pass, the initial effects of rising an hour earlier are forgotten and all are enjoying that precious extra daylight.

When the clocks are rolled backward in the fall and DST ends, however, the real and negative effects of the twice-annual roll back are more apparent. The disturbing effects of the roll back of time are considerable, bringing to mind the more advantageous effects of DST all-year-round. As we fall back onto Standard Time in the fall, there is an imperceptible difference in the daylight we experience in the morning, however, our daylight is shorter and dark comes earlier.  In fact, we generally will be leaving our places of work in the near dark or the dark itself and we generally arrive at our homes in the darkness. The latter is not conducive to the psychological state of many Canadians who find darkness depressing and retreat to their homes and their enclosed spaces to avoid its effects.  In addition, this second time change in the year has an even greater effect on our bodies and, while the effect is difficult to measure directly, research studies point to an increase in automobile accidents as circadian rhythms are once again disrupted. Also, the psychological effects must be overcome as darkness encroaches upon us day by day.

The only solution to this dilemma is to adopt permanent Daylight Savings Time, an idea that is not new. It has been discussed and disputed since time measures were universally established in the early 1900’s and even earlier.  There is no reasonable justification why citizens in any jurisdiction should be subjected to two time changes every year and it is strongly advocated that a permanent move to Daylight Savings Time be made as soon as possible.

BENEFITS/ADVANTAGES OF PERMANENT DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME

The advantages of DST are simple to address since they obviate the two time changes each year that lead to numerous negative effects. The following summarizes the benefits of permanent DST:

·      The effects on circadian rhythms are eliminated and the associated stress, irritability and other psychological conditions do not occur within many individuals that have difficulty adjusting to twice annual time changes;  

·      Greater daylight at the end of each day means less darkness as we make our way home from work or school or commuting for any other reasons;

·      Decreased motor vehicle and pedestrian fatalities result from the additional natural light at the end of the day as opposed to the greater incidence of such accidents after we switch to Standard Time;

·      Increased energy savings are realized due to lesser lighting required at end of day and any additional morning energy usage can generally be offset by technology and energy efficient lighting;

·      Energy demands at peak levels during the day appear to be reduced;

·      Evening criminal activity is potentially decreased due to the extended level of daylight;

·      Children are not endangered by summer DST and neither will they be by a DST introduced on a year-round basis: in fact, strong arguments can be made that these time changes are most difficult on children;

·      Most importantly, the extra hour of daylight gives us the opportunity for more social and recreational activities with family and friends that would otherwise be curtailed due to the ongoing darkness and, as well, provides light for such things as shopping, gardening and a variety of other tasks that require light.

As in many facets of life, there are some who will dispute all or some of these benefits. Much research has been completed to support the foregoing advantages and references will be provided at the completion of this document for further review by readers.

THE EVOLUTION OF TIME STANDARDS AND DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME

Perhaps the greatest drawback to the adoption of year-round DST is that few of us have paid much attention to the time standards established for us and have simply accepted the status quo, suffering the consequences and paving the way for the adherents of Standard Time to prevail.  In actual fact, a brief review reveals that time standards have been in flux since Standard Time was initially introduced in the  late 1800’s and early 1900’s and most of us have had little reason to examine how and why Standard Time evolved and came into common usage.  Furthermore, there is little documentation that adequately explains why DST, to this day, is considered a diversion from the norm of Standard Time.  There are many countries and regions throughout the world that vary their time zones to suit their local environment.  Why shouldn’t we suit ours to year-round DST?

In order to understand that DST is a more attractive option than Standard Time, the authors of this document examined the evolution of Standard Time, in general, and the introduction of Daylight Savings Time across the world, in particular.  It is our opinion that the acceptance of Standard Time as the measure was arbitrarily set back in the earliest years and that DST could just as easily have been made the standard instead.  In other words, the originators of the standard measure could just as easily have enacted Daylight Standard Time instead, or permanent Daylight Savings Time as we know it today.

CANADIANS WERE THE FIRST TO SPRING FORWARD

It is interesting to note that a Canadian city was the first location in the world to introduce a form of DST.  In 1908, Thunder Bay (known then as Port Arthur) first moved the clocks forward on the morning of July 1st of that year.  The change came about because a local Port Arthur business man, John Hewitson, petitioned the town council to adjust the clocks to Eastern Time in the summer months so that local children and outdoorspeople could enjoy an extra hour of summer light. Council agreed and the town turned its clocks ahead one hour from June to September. It was that simple.  There would be another hour of sunlight at the end of the day and that remains the key factor in determining why we should keep DST throughout the year - An extra hour of daylight.

DEVELOPMENT OF TIME STANDARDS

In order to deviate from Standard Time permanently, it is helpful to understand how Standard Time became universally accepted many decades ago and that this arbitrary move need not necessarily be the standard accepted into perpetuity. A quick synopsis on the development of world standards of time reveals that, over the centuries, much emphasis was placed on sunlight as a standard of measure and perhaps can explain why DST makes so much sense. The ancients were users of the sun to measure their day. Early on, before the current standardization of time became a reality, Benjamin Franklin around 1785 proclaimed that “early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”, although he did not conceive of DST.  A satirical review around that time, however, suggested that earlier waking times among the population could be encouraged by ringing church bells and firing canons at sunrise. Despite other efforts to encourage earlier rising, not much changed until the varying methods of time measurement were eventually consolidated into standard time zones in the early 1900’s. Interestingly, it was principally through the efforts of Sir Sanford Fleming, a Scottish-born Canadian, who caused interest to be focused on time standards. Fleming initially proposed a global 24-hour clock in 1876 and followed with a proposal for a world-wide system of time zones conceptually located at the center of the earth. Although his later proposal to the International Meridian Conference in 1874 was not accepted, the Conference did adopt a universal day of 24 hours beginning at Greenwich midnight, qualifying the decision by noting that individual jurisdictions would be free to deviate from this standard should they decide to do so. This development paved the way and, by the early 1900’s, standard time zones were essentially established worldwide although several decades passed before most major countries were using the system currently known as Standard Time.  Now, it is the universally accepted standard despite deviations in many parts of the world that arise for either geographic or political reasons.

PROGRESSING TOWARDS DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME (DST) ACROSS THE WORLD

The concept of DST was first proposed in 1895 by George Hudson, a New Zealand entomologist who worked shift work and wanted more daylight hours to pursue his hobby of collecting insects. Eventually, his ideas were derided and it took the efforts of a British builder and outdoorsman, William Willet, to make the practice of advancing clocks during the summer months to lengthen the daylight hours a reality. Willett was a lover of pre-breakfast rides and he observed that Londoners wasted the morning light by the number of blinds that were still down as he passed by.  He also loved afternoon golfing and he disliked cutting short his golf games at dusk.  The combining of these two effects led him to the concept of DST and he began to actively crusade for it.   His initial proposal in 1907 attracted many supporters, including Winston Churchill, who noted that it enlarges “the opportunities for the pursuit of health and happiness of people who live in this country”. Later on, Willett published a pamphlet "The Waste of Daylight” and, in it, he proposed that the clocks should be advanced by 80 minutes in four incremental steps during April and reversed the same way during September. The evenings would then remain light for longer, increasing daylight recreation time and also saving millions in lighting costs. Willett vigorously campaigned for this change but it was not until World War I that it was implemented in Europe, initially across Germany and by its allies on April 30, 1916.  The rest of Europe and the U.K. eventually followed, as did the United States later in 1918.  At that time, coal was an expensive commodity and it was determined that more daylight in the evenings would save energy costs and, perhaps, provide more daylight for war raids.  It made a great deal of sense at that time since energy was costly in those years and was not as easily available as it is today.  It was more economical to sleep when it was dark and to be awake when there was more natural light.  

EVENTUAL ADOPTION OF DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME ACROSS THE WORLD

After WW I, DST was repealed by many countries, however, not by Britain, where it continued with different transition dates dependent on certain religious days such as Easter Sunday.  As WW II developed years later, DST again came into usage but there was little standardization and, when the war ended, DST was discontinued again. Over the years, DST continued to be controversial and its usage was subject to much arbitrariness.  In the 1940’s, as an example, a judge in Kentucky declared it unconstitutional, the farmers hated it, claiming milking hours for cows could not be changed, and others in different regions would not recognize it.  It was not until 1966, as the United States passed the Uniform Time Act, that DST was made universal across the country. Even so, there are states today within the U. S. that do not move to DST, as there are countries and regions within others that do not switch over for a variety of reasons. 

In Canada, for example, there are regions that do not convert to DST and they are in the following provinces: British Columbia (Peace River Region, Fort Nelson and Creston),  Saskatchewan (most of the province), Northern Territories, Ontario (Pickle Lake, New Osnaburgh, Atikokan),  Quebec (certain north-eastern regions).  Many of these regions are in the north, where they already experience more daylight in the summer due to their proximity to the North Pole.  It is interesting to note, however, that Thunder Bay, as mentioned earlier, is one of these northern communities who nevertheless chose to be the first to introduce DST, increasing their daylight time almost to 11 PM in the summer months. Overall, it is estimated that approximately one-fifth of the world’s population has adopted DST.

The DEBATES OVER THE ISSUE OF DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME

Much of the research on the benefits of the annual time changes has been conducted years ago and many hearings have been held over the decades as to the efficacy of DST, mostly in the U.S. There, politicians were much taken up with the debate for many years and were inspired by the energy shortages that surfaced from time to time, particularly during the 1970’s, when DST was legally required.   Later, in 2001, a Bill proposing the Energy Conservation Potential of Extended and Double Daylight Savings Time was sent to the 107th Congress.  Many hearings followed to various agencies but DST has remained a contentious issue throughout most of the United States and, latterly, in Canada.

Primarily, decision makers find it difficult to legislate due to the age of the research, much of which was conducted more than 20 years or more ago, and they fear making decisions on those results.  Moreover, debates on the issue are plagued by catch phrases, questionable results and anecdotal evidence and countries across the world have had inconsistent and not always rationale experiences with DST.  The United States experimented with full-time Daylight Savings twice and returned to its usage on a part-time basis.  More citations could be made of the indecision between implementing DST at all to implementing it only in the summer months and, most revolutionary of all – to implement DST all year-round.

JURISDICTIONS IN CANADA AND THE UNITED STATES INVESTIGATING THE ISSUE

There are other jurisdictions in both Canada and the United States currently involved in the controversy over time and the more apparent options appear to be twofold - permanent DST or permanent Standard Time.  In other words, no more time changes.  For example, Premier John Horgan of British Columbia has been actively pursuing the issue with the governors of the states of Washington, Oregon and California noting that British Columbia would like to move in sync with those states.  Although he has not indicated his preferred time standard, he wishes his province to be in time synch with the foregoing three states, all of whom are pursuing the adoption of permanent DST. Furthermore, in the United States, the Florida legislature passed a bill to enact permanent DST.  Voters in California approved a measure to implement it full time and are awaiting approval by the state legislature before it goes to Congress, since states cannot implement permanent DST without a change in federal laws. Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island have implemented similar measures for the adoption of DST. In all, a total of at least 26 states have expressed interest in making DST permanent and it should not be long before significant steps are taken in this direction.  

YOUR VOTE IS REALLY NEEDED!

The movement toward permanent DST has not been so well publicized in Canada and this petition is an attempt to get us moving in that direction.

The information provided is intended to enable readers to judge for themselves whether they accept this concept or not.  Hopefully, more readers than not will agree that the rolling back of time in the fall should be discontinued and that the more advantageous time standard lies with introducing year-round DST. By signing this petition, readers will be among the many thousands of people who have already agreed that we should keep Daylight Savings Time as the preferred option.  Please join us in this campaign to make it happen!