As It Happens·Q&A

The pandemic is the 'ideal' moment to make daylight time permanent, says advocate

Tara Holmes has been fighting for five years to convince B.C. to stop changing its clocks twice a year, and she says there's no better time than the present.

'The borders are closed. The airlines are flying way less. NHL teams aren't zipping around'

In Canada, clocks go back one hour on Nov. 1, meaning the sun will rise earlier in the day. (Leighton Klassen/CBC)

Tara Holmes has been fighting for five years to convince Canada to stop changing its clocks twice a year, and she says there's no better time than the present.

The majority of Canada will fall back an hour on Nov. 1, bringing us out of daylight time back into standard time, except in Yukon, Saskatchewan and some municipalities.

But Holmes, co-founder of the B.C.-based Stop the Time Change, says her province — and, in fact, the whole country — should leave the clocks unchanged.

Last year, B.C. passed a legislative amendment to enable the elimination of all clock changes, and a move to permanent daylight time. But Premier John Horgan has signalled the province won't stop changing its clocks until Washington, Oregon and California do the same.

Here is part of Holmes' conversation with As It Happens host Carol Off.

Tara, what time will the sun set after Sunday's time change where you are?

4:30 [p.m.] is when people will be shocked when darkness is upon them.

What does that mean for you? Why does [one fewer hour of daylight] make such a difference?

Well, in my life, personally, it doesn't. But for obviously a lot of British Columbians, it's massive.

Twice a year, we're messing with our circadian rhythms, we're messing with our sleep, we're messing with mental health, we're causing accidents. It's dangerous. There's heart attacks. There's so many statistics.

More countries in the world actually don't observe the time change.... The European [Parliament voted in favour of] stopping the time change next year. And it's really happening more and more now.

And, of course, B.C. said it was going to. I mean, the vast majority of people in British Columbia agree with you, and so they said they were going to stop doing it.  Why is it still going to go back this Sunday?

[B.C. Premier John Horgan] started talking to the neighbours to the south. That's very important to Mr. Horgan, to have Washington State, Oregon and California on board.

They all agreed to do it. However, they need that extra permission from Congress. And of course, last year there was an impeachment, this year's an election, Washington State went on fire, and COVID happened.

So a lot of things obviously put this on the back burner, no pun intended. And Mr. Horgan called a snap election, as well, in the middle of it all.

Do you think that eventually we will see Canada united in this idea that we should just not be dropping back?

Yeah, absolutely.

And the ironic thing about this pandemic … this would have been the ideal time to do it. The borders are closed. The airlines are flying way less. NHL teams aren't zipping around. More people are at home.

Mental health right now is at an all-time low. This is not going to help.

There are people who this really does affect. Some people might think, "Oh, what's the big deal? It's just an hour."

Ask any parent who has babies, and people who've got tests, and then, of course, the people with sleep disorders. And with mental health issues, it can be really devastating.

Bob Dieno and Tara Holmes are trying to get 10,000 signatures on a petition keep B.C. on Daylight Savings Time all year round. (Jenifer Norwell/CBC)

Now, of course, B.C.'s legislation would permanently institute [daylight] time. So that would mean there would be no falling back in November…. Does it make a difference to you whether it gets frozen in the springtime or in the fall?

Well, just because of seeing the substantial amount of British Columbians who want it on [daylight time], I would want it there because I wouldn't want to get everyone mad at me. [laughs]

When you get up in the morning — I mean, I'm a morning person. I was out for a run this morning at 6 a.m., pitch black, it doesn't bother me, I have a headlamp on — but I would really like that light later.

For kids playing after school and walking home after school, it's much more beneficial to those kids to have lighter towards the end of the day.

Written by Sheena Goodyear with files from CBC B.C. Interview produced by Chloe Shantz-Hilkes. Q&A has been edited for length and clarity. 

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