Alas, it has happened again.
The dreaded time change is upon us once again—the bane of parents, teenagers, and coffee addicts alike.
At 2 am Sunday morning, the government snatched away one precious hour of sleep. Worse, when you woke up, you had to spend at least half an hour painstakingly updating every analog clock in your home, along with the microwave, oven, coffee machine, old digital clocks, and the car.
It’s not the best way to start a relaxing Sunday.
In return for this inconvenience, we are rewarded with more daylight in the afternoon—the only saving grace of the bi-annual time change legislated in almost all provinces across Canada. “Spring Forward” brings with it Daylight Savings Time (DST).
Four-and-a-half months ago I wrote here about my crusade to end the time change in Ontario. To those who might have missed it, during my time as a member of provincial parliament I tabled a private member’s bill that would move Ontario into permanent DST. If it were enacted today, it would mean that after the Spring Forward, we would stop the time change for good, leaving us with more daylight hours in the evening on a permanent basis.
The bill sailed through the legislature in a record 55 days, receiving all-party support. The catch: in order for the Bill to “come into force” we would need Quebec and New York State to follow suit.
While Quebec has expressed interest in the idea, New York State has always been the sticking point. Wrestling the Empire State into line is no easy feat.
However, I am ever the optimist and there remain some signs of good news.
In order for New York State to move to permanent DST, they require authorization from the federal government. The American Uniform Time Act currently mandates that states either follow the biannual time change OR move into permanent standard time.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio is trying to change that. In a bipartisan effort, he has introduced once again his Sunshine Protection Act, a Bill that would allow states to adopt permanent DST. The last iteration of the Bill passed through the Senate relatively unopposed before stalling in the House of Representatives. The hope of many is that this time, the House will take up the Bill for a vote.
A critical mass of support for this measure is building across the American States. So far, 19 states have passed legislation indicating that they would move to permanent DST if authorized, including Alabama, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. Meanwhile, California voters endorsed the move in a referendum.
If the Sunshine Protection Act becomes law this year, it will be incumbent on Canadian provinces, like Ontario, to lobby their cross-border partners to move quickly. While bringing New York State on board is the key to unlocking Ontario’s legislation, having Michigan aligned as well would be beneficial.
In the meantime, more Canadian provinces should move forward with passing provisional legislation, like my Bill in Ontario. In this way, we could send a strong, unified message to our trading partners south of the border that we are ready to make this change with them. There is nothing stopping Quebec, for example, from doing this. A lone intrepid member of the National Assembly could bring forward their own private member’s bill to do this.
The evidence is clear as to the harm that is caused by this bi-annual ritual of disrupting our circadian rhythms. And I have no doubt that legislators who take up this cause will be rewarded by happy parents everywhere, who will be dealing with groggy children for the next few weeks.
So if you find yourself grumbling over this change in the coming days, look up your provincial representative and send them a note. Urge them to take up this cause and continue moving this forward.
All eyes are on the U.S. Congress. Let’s hope that this Spring Forward is the last one.