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Time changes persist despite experts’ consensus to end daylight time

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Most Canadians will be turning the clocks back by an hour this weekend as various political moves to end seasonal time changes have yet to take broad effect – but experts say we’d be better off without the twice-a-year shift.

Daylight time, which sees people enjoy an extra hour of daylight at the end of the day starting March 13, ends on Sunday.

Experts say the tradition of springing forward and falling back in time every year is taxing on individuals’ health.

Raymond Lam, a University of British Columbia professor and B.C. leadership chair in depression research, said circadian scientists, sleep researchers, and clinicians generally agree that a permanent move to standard time would be preferred.

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“All the circadian and sleep researchers are clear that permanent standard time should be adopted, we should not have the time zone change … for the sake of our health,” he said.

“Unfortunately, for whatever reason, we can’t figure it out.”

The debate about ending seasonal time changes gained traction in Ontario in October 2020 when then-legislator Jeremy Roberts tabled a private member’s bill that would end the twice-a-year time change in Ontario if Quebec and New York did the same.

The bill passed with unanimous support and would have the province on permanent daylight time. Quebec Premier François Legault suggested he wasn’t opposed but said the matter wasn’t a priority, and no one else has taken up Roberts’ cause in the Ontario legislature since he was voted out of office in June.

British Columbia passed similar legislation the year prior to sticking with daylight time but is also waiting on some southern states to do the same.

Yukon decided in 2020 to no longer make seasonal changes and now follows its own standard time zone. Saskatchewan hasn’t changed its clocks in more than 100 years, with the exception of Lloydminster, which straddles the boundary with Alberta.

A unified end to time changes seemed closer to becoming reality in March after the U.S. Senate unanimously approved Republican Sen. Marco Rubio’s Sunshine Protection Act, which would make daylight time permanent across the country and, by effect, much of Canada.

The bill still needs to be passed by the House of Representatives before President Joe Biden can sign off on it, and it remains stalled in the House.

But despite popular opinion and government legislation, experts say permanent daylight time could have detrimental effects on people’s health and it’s standard time that governments should shift to.

That’s because standard time is more in line with our natural circadian rhythm and internal biological clock, they said.

A June 2022 report submitted to the Canadian Sleep Society by researchers at the University of Ottawa and Université de Montréal recommended federal and provincial governments move to yearlong standard time and consult with scientists before implementing changes.

Last week, Mexico approved a bill to eliminate daylight time altogether, putting an end to the practice of changing clocks twice per year. Some cities and towns along the U.S. border are able to retain daylight time since they are closely linked to U.S. cities.

University of Calgary professor Michael Antle, who studies circadian rhythms, said early morning light keeps our bodies synchronized to the day-night cycle when days are really short in the winter, and permanent daylight time would cause “chronic harm from being chronically desynchronized.”

Antle said research indicates permanent daylight time would force us to get up an hour earlier for work and school in the winter, which could increase traffic and workplace accidents and see students’ performance in school drop, all due to a lack of alertness.

“We’ve never had that experience in Canada of waking up on permanent daylight time in the winter, so people think it’s not going to be so bad until they try it,” he said.

Antle pointed to Russia, a country as far north as Canada, which moved to permanent daylight time in 2011 only to abandon it three years later.

“They just couldn’t tolerate it … everybody who’s tried it has abandoned it,” said Antle, adding he wouldn’t be surprised if Yukon soon reconsiders its decision.

Werner Antweiler, a professor at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business, said the original incentive for daylight time was an economic move to harvest daylight for longer periods of daily activity, in an effort to conserve energy. Today, the idea has been made obsolete by better technology and more efficient lighting.

Antweiler said there is a strong incentive for Canada’s time zones to be standardized with the U.S. since much of the countries’ economic activity and businesses are integrated in the north-south direction, rather than east-west.

“If they move in one way, we’re compelled to do it the same way,” he said, “But it’s all stalled still because it takes a long time for everything to get harmonized and everybody agreeing on which direction we’re moving.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 4, 2022.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

 

Tyler Griffin, The Canadian Press

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Afghan refugees: Government delays increasing financial pressure – CTV News

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Refugee advocates are raising concerns that Afghan refugees granted asylum in Canada are being burdened by escalating costs stemming from the government’s delay in processing their claims.

Before they board their flight to Canada, all refugees are required to sign a loan agreement to pay back the cost of their transportation and pre-arrival expenses which can include hotel stays.

Some Afghans identified by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada as eligible for resettlement have been waiting months for exit permits while living in hotels arranged by the government. The hotel bills can add thousands of dollars to their debt.

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The Canadian Council for Refugees says Afghans are being forced to pay for an inefficient bureaucracy.

“It seems like the Canadian government is taking advantage of the vulnerability of people,” says Janet Dench, executive director of the Canadian Council of Refugees. Hotel bills can add thousands of dollars to their government debt.

Dench says refugees have no choice but to accept a “legally dubious” contract that doesn’t stipulate a precise loan amount.

“If they want a permanent home they have to sign on to whatever the terms of the agreement are. There’s no negotiation room, so people are forced into this situation.”

LONG WAITS AND BIG BILLS

Because Canada doesn’t recognize the Taliban government Afghans must get to a third country with consular support to complete their refugee applications. Many flee to neighboring Pakistan where Canada has a High Commission in the capital of Islamabad.

Nearly all Afghan refugees deemed eligible for resettlement are placed in the care of the International Organization for Migration while they are overseas.

The IOM organizes both charter and commercial flights to Canada and coordinates hotel stays for refugees as they wait for their exit permits. IOM doesn’t book flights until after IRCC has completed security and medical checks of its applicants. The organization bills the Canadian government approximately $150 per day to house and provide three meals a day for one family.

Of the 25,400 Afghans who have arrived in Canada since August 2021, IOM spokesperson Paul Dillon told CTV News in an emailed statement Friday the organizations has arranged travel for more than 22,000 of those refugees.

The claims of another 15,000 Afghans Canada committed to accepting after the Taliban took over the country have been delayed.

Irfanullah Noori, 28 and his family of five stepped off a plane at Pearson International Airport less than two months ago at the end of October. Before the Taliban took over his homeland in Noori worked as a logistics coordinator at the Kabul International Airport. He qualified for asylum because his brother served as an interpreter for Canadian soldiers.

Before being issued travel documents to Canada, Nouri, his wife and their three children, all under the age of five – stayed in an Islamabad hotel arranged by IOM for three months.

Irfanullah Noori poses with his youngest daughter on October 25, 2022 at the Pakistan International Airport before he boarded plane bound for Canada.

Before boarding his flight he signed a loan agreement. Nouri says IOM staff told him he would need to repay hotel expenses that added up to more than $13,000. That amount does not factor in the cost of flights for his family that he will also have to repay.

MISLEADING COSTS

IRCC says 96 per cent of refugees are able to pay back the loans. Monthly payments on the interest free loans are scheduled to begin one year after refugees arrive in Canada and costs can be spread out over nine years.

The federal government puts a cap of $15,000 on each loan per family, but the Canadian Council for Refugees says this is a misleading number.

Refugee families who have older dependents may have to pay back more than the cap. That’s because dependents over the age of 22 years old, can be considered a separate family unit and required to take on a new loan. Dench says this policy puts refugees in a precarious economic position. She’s seen families fight over finances and hopes and dreams put on hold.

“You have young people who should normally be going to university and pursuing their education but they feel that they’re morally obliged to get down to work, even at a minimum wage job in order to pay off the family debt,” said Dench. She argues the Canadian government should stop requiring refugees to repay the costs of getting them to safety, no matter where they come from.

SIMILAR CLAIMS, DIFFERENT TIME FRAMES

Since the fall of Kabul in August 2021, the Veterans Transition Network has helped raise funds to get interpreters and others out of Afghanistan. Oliver Thorne, VTN’s executive director says he’s frustrated that there are huge variations how long it takes for claims to be approved between applicants with similar profiles

“Some migrants are left in the dark. They don’t know why it’s taking them an additional two, four or six months compared to another interpreter who worked with the Canadian armed forces.” Thorne says IRCC needs to hire and train more staff to speed up the processing of claims.

He’s also calling for the removal of loan requirements, especially for Afghans who assisted the Canadian armed forces.

“They protected our men and women in uniform at great risk to themselves and their families. And secondly, these are going to be Canadians. They’re going to live here in our society down the street from us, and we have nothing to gain by making their transition more difficult,” Thorne said in an interview from Vancouver.

NO DEBT RELIEF

CTV News asked the Immigration Minister if it was fair that the Canadian government was burdening Afghans with additional costs due to the government backlog.

On Friday, Sean Fraser blamed a complicated process, but acknowledged that some refugees had been stuck “for a significant period of time.’ But the minister offered few solutions other than a vague reassurance that his department was “working with Pakistani officials to make sure we’re facilitating the smooth transportation of people to Canada.”

Meanwhile Noori is struggling to make ends meet in his new Ontario home, despite finding a job a few weeks ago at the General Motors plant in Oshawa.

Hired as a data-entry clerk, Noori earns $19/hour and is trying to pick up extra shifts on the weekend so he can make his $2,000 monthly rent on a one bedroom apartment.

Even though he won’t have to start paying back his refugee loan until next year, he’s daunted by the impending bill.

“It’s expensive (here.) I work 8 hours a day and six days a week. It will be very hard for me to pay back.”

After surviving the Taliban, Noori now faces subsistence in Canada.

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Children’s hospital in Newfoundland and Labrador is cancelling some surgeries

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A children’s hospital in the capital of Newfoundland and Labrador is cancelling some surgeries and appointments starting Monday.

Health officials say it’s due to a high level of respiratory illness.

It is unclear how many surgeries and appointments at Janeway Children’s Health and Rehabilitation Centre in St. John‘s will be affected.

Residents who are not experiencing a medical emergency are being asked to avoid visiting an emergency department.

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Slain RCMP Const. Yang cleared of wrongdoing in shooting: B.C. police watchdog

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Slain RCMP Const. Yang cleared of wrongdoing in shooting: B.C. police watchdog

British Columbia‘s police watchdog has cleared a slain Burnaby RCMP constable of wrongdoing after she shot a man in the altercation that led to her death.

The Independent Investigations Office says after a review of all available evidence its chief civilian director determined that there are no reasonable grounds to believe Const. Shaelyn Yang committed an offence.

It says the matter will not be referred to the Crown for consideration of charges.

Yang, a 31-year-old mental health and homeless outreach officer, was stabbed to death on Oct. 18 while she and a City of Burnaby employee attempted to issue an eviction notice to a man who had been living in a tent at a local park.

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Yang shot the suspect before she died, and the IIO later said Jongwon Ham underwent surgery for his injuries.

Ham has since been charged with first-degree murder in Yang’s death.

“Due to concurrent court proceedings related to the incident, the IIO’s public report will not be released on the IIO website until that process has concluded,” the IIO said in a news release.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2022.

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