It is soon that time of the year again, or rather that ‘Eastern Standard Time’ (EST) day of the year. On November 1st 2020 at 2:00am, Quebecers will be turning their clocks back one hour, along with most other regions in Canada. Sunrise and sunset will arrive one hour sooner on our timepieces, meaning for many people waking up at their scheduled times for work or school, it will be lighter in the morning – but it will be darker for the evening rush hour ride home. Then next March we will be getting ready to ‘spring forward’ again when Daylight Savings Time (DST) begins and the tulips soon start poking through the earth, the mornings once again darker and the evenings lighter. However, that may change here in Quebec.
After Ontario tabled Bill 214 on October 7th, an Act that would see the end of EST in their province and make Daylight Savings Time permanent (the new ‘standard time’ throughout the year), Premier Francois Legault said at his press conference on October 8th, that he is ‘open to looking at that’ as well. The permanent change would be welcomed by experts who believe the time changes might be making us unhealthy, costing us money and even putting us in dangerous situations. DST was first used to save energy during wartime, so why do we still bother with it now?
Numerous studies have shown that the hour of sleep we lose by ‘springing ahead’ can seriously affect our health. They show an increase in heart attacks and strokes linked to the time change. There is a significant increase in car accidents in the days following and an increase in work-related accidents. Our bodies are governed by our natural clocks that rely on light – and time changes just mess us up with the sudden disruptions to our sleep. When it is interrupted, it causes decreases in performance and concentration, as well as fatigue.
Even farmers have been opposed to DST for years, because it confuses the cows and their schedules and creates other drawbacks in everyday farm life. Studies have shown there are also environmental and economic concerns attached to DST. In the summer months, it creates more traffic later into the evening – and that creates an increase in fuel consumption and resulting in higher levels of pollution. In 2014, Manitoba Public Insurance said there was a 20% increase in claims for car accidents on the province’s roads the Monday following the springtime change. As well, other studies showed that DST has a negative effect on our behaviour with up to 35% of those polled reporting difficulty waking up, 21% reporting a lack of energy and 13% finding themselves feeling very irritable after the clocks are turned forward – or back for that matter. As many of us are shocked into the unnatural change of darkness in the morning and less sleep, voices have been consistently rising to put an end the Daylight Saving Time – and perhaps it is time for Quebec to stop that clock.