Daylight time forever? U.S. ‘springs forward’ toward making it happen


North America has just taken a major, erm, spring forward toward eliminating the twice-a-year change to our clocks. The U.S. Senate passed a bill with potential for ripple effect that could touch Canada.

A worker in Medfield, Mass., wipes a tower clock in March 2009 before the start of daylight time. The U.S. is a step closer to doing away with adjusting the clocks. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

Imagine never again having to recite that twice-annual reminder about adjusting the clock: Spring forward, fall back.

Well, Canada, it might finally happen.

North America has just taken a major, erm, spring forward toward eliminating the twice-a-year change to our clocks.

What's new

One of the two chambers of the United States Congress has passed a bill that would make permanent daylight time, which is currently in place from March through November.

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday passed the bill with total support by both parties, by unanimous consent, which could mean sunnier evenings year-round — and less-sunny mornings in winter.

The bill was introduced by Sen. Marco Rubio who has been a vocal proponent of this move for a while, and who has made clear his hatred of the existing practice.

He grumbled a year ago that people were about to lose an hour's sleep with the clock change and ridiculed the concept.

"Everyone's gonna be upset. It's just dumb," he said in a video posted online.

"[It's] one of the stupidest things we do every single year. … To move our clock forward and clock back. It makes no sense."

A Democrat, Kyrsten Sinema, was presiding over the chamber as Rubio proposed the measure and when nobody objected she pumped both fists in agreement and said, "Yes!"

👀 WATCH: Senator Rubio speaks on the Senate floor following the unanimous passage of his Sunshine Protection Act to make Daylight Saving Time permanent. <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#LocktheClock</a> 🌞 <a href=""></a>


The context

Daylight time was first adopted in the U.S. in a 1918 law, following Europe's lead during the First World War.

A 1966 law allowed individual states to opt out.

It's been mostly observed for more than 100 years in the U.S., with the exception of the Second World War and the 1973 oil crisis.

U.S. government research has suggested a permanent move to daylight might produce tiny energy savings of a fraction of a percent.

Rubio cited other benefits in proposing the measure Tuesday: he said studies have linked the clock change to fatigue, sleep loss, seasonal depression, and less exercise and more crime because of dark evenings.

On the other hand there have also been conflicting findings in studies about whether the darker winter mornings lead to more vehicle accidents.

Several jurisdictions have passed laws proposing the change but have been reluctant to implement them without broader support.

Ontario, for example, already has a law passed and ready to be implemented if New York and Quebec do the same. Rubio's Florida also adopted such a law in 2018, but it would only take effect once U.S. federal law changes.

His bill had 17 co-sponsors, nearly equally divided between the parties.

What's next

The bill's fate lies largely with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. If the top lawmaker chooses to bring this legislation to a vote and it passes the House of Representatives, it would become U.S. law.

Such a move would create pressure for Canada to follow suit, as jurisdictions like Toronto and Ottawa might be keen to have their clocks co-ordinated with those in New York and Washington.

In Canada, this is a provincial decision. And that's why Saskatchewan doesn't switch its clocks, choosing to remain on standard time all year-round.

Rubio said his bill would not take effect until 2023, to avoid headaches for airlines that have already sold fares under the existing clock.

Rubio closed out his speech in the Senate on Tuesday by saying: "Pardon the pun: But this is an idea whose time has come."

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