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UBC economist argues for permanent switch to daylight savings time

As most Canadians prepare to set their clocks forward an hour on Mar. 13, 2016, a University of British Columbia economist argues for a permanent switch.

"The next time I put you back on the wall, it's going to be forever!"

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

"The next time I put you back on the wall, it's going to be forever!"

As most Canadians prepare to set their clocks forward an hour on Sunday, a University of British Columbia professor is arguing for a permanent switch to daylight savings time.

UBC economist Werner Antweiler found no evidence of benefits and some costs to changing the time twice a year, according to research he will release on his blog this weekend.

“All in all, why are we doing this? Is it good for us? The answer is not really,” Antweiler said.

The original idea behind the time change was to give people more daylight and reduce energy use, Antweiler said. But now that society uses more energy efficient lightbulbs and energy-sucking air conditioners, he didn’t find any energy savings associated with the ritual.

There’s also a cost to society from waking people up earlier, he said, as there are more motor vehicle accidents when the clocks jump forward.  

He believes a permanent switch to daylight savings time could result in energy savings. Studies suggest year-round daylight savings time would follow a schedule with more daylight, he said.

Antweiler pointed out that Saskatchewan is already on permanent daylight savings time and all of Canada was from 1942 to 1945, although then it was called “war time.”

Ultimately, he doesn’t think Canadian provinces will make the switch unless the U.S. does so. But as campaigns to get rid of the bi-annual time change grow in some states, Antweiler suggests it’s something policy makers should start thinking about.

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