Nova Scotia

Boston man wants to adopt Atlantic time for public health reasons

A public health advocate in Massachusetts is hoping to give his state an extra hour of daylight in the best way he knows how — introducing a bill to adopt Nova Scotia’s time zone.

Tom Emswiler has introduced Bill S-2040 that would study shift away from eastern standard time

If passed, Bill S-2040 would commission a study about replacing the state's current Eastern Standard Time with Atlantic Standard Time. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

A public health advocate in Boston is hoping to give his state an extra hour of daylight the best way he knows how — introducing a bill to adopt the same time zone as the Maritimes. 

"I hear your time there is lovely!" said Tom Emswiler while speaking with CBC's Information Morning Halifax.

With the help of the state's senator, Emswiler says he's introduced a bill in Massachusetts's legislature, called Bill S-2040. If passed, it would commission a study looking at replacing the state's current eastern standard time with Atlantic standard time. 

He says it's discouraging that in the winter the earliest the sun sets is at 4:11 p.m. But there's more to it than that, he urges. 

"When I looked at the public health research — it really supports sticking with one time because when you change the clocks, you see, especially in the spring, there are a lot of public health issues."

Trying to avoid giving millions jet lag 

Emswiler refers to car accidents, workplace injuries and more heart attacks, "because you're basically giving millions of people jet lag on the same day." 

"I thought to myself, 'What time should we pick? Should we pick the one we're on four months of the year, the standard time? Or should we pick the one we're on eight months a year — daylight time?' And it seems to make the most sense to pick the one we're on most of the time." 

He says introducing a bill asking the time zone be changed would likely be denied outright. It's why the bill he's proposed requests more research be done first. 

Emswiler recently submitted testimony explaining his position at a hearing where his bill, and several others, were discussed. His ideas have also been talked about in Rhode Island media.

To bolster his pitch, he says the slightly longer days would help keep people and entrepreneurs from moving to sunnier states like California.

"I think that would be one way to help retain and attract young people," Emswiler said. 

Feedback sheds light

When discussed with people on the street, he says a typical response is, "Why aren't we doing this already?" 

One "thoughtful" critique of his proposal actually got him thinking about the downside of changing the time: it will be darker for longer in the morning.

"The concern there is that children will be walking to school in the dark," he said.

"I have children myself and certainly want to put their safety on top of everything. But if the reasons for keeping one time all year round are compelling, the reasons for a later school start are even more compelling." 

If Bill S-2040 were to become law, a commission would study the issue and present a report to the Massachusetts legislature. If a follow-up bill were to pass, it would go to the U.S. Department of Transportation — the department that regulates time zones. 

"We wouldn't need an act of Congress to fix this," he says. 

"We'll see what we can do, because I believe the evidence is on my side."