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January 30, 2022

The great Canadian penny roundup — er, round off

One cent.penny.pennies.Adrian Wyld.The Canadian PressWe won’t be penny pinching anymore — we’ll be nickel and diming it.

The Canadian penny’s days are numbered. On Feb. 4, consumers, businesses, charities and financial institutions are encouraged to start rounding off cash transactions.

That’s the date the Canadian government has set to phase out our penny and the date when the Canadian Mint will no longer be distributing the much loved one-cent piece. The final penny was actually minted last spring.

The sense behind phasing out the cent was rising production costs (it cost 1.6 cents for every penny minted); the excessive hoarding of pennies in our homes (if I had a dollar for every penny I’d be rich!); environmental considerations; and the handling costs it imposes on retailers, financial institutions and the economy.

The move will save Canadian taxpayers an estimated $11 million a year.

Just remember: Only cash transactions will be affected. Any transactions made by cheque or electronically by debit or credit card will remain the same.

So as part of the great Canadian penny round up, the change from your cash transaction will be rounded off either up or down depending on your purchase. For example, when you walk into a coffee shop or other business and your cash transaction totals $1.01 or $1.02, you may be asked for $1 (yay!)  If it is $1.06 or $1.07, it works out to $1.05 (yay again!). As you can see, we’re doing OK here. But if your cash transaction comes to $1.03 or $1.04, you will be asked for $1.05 and if it is $1.08 or $1.09, you will be asked for $1.10.

Interestingly, the Ministry of Finance website states that even though everyone is encouraged to phase out the penny and start rounding off cash transactions, pennies can still be used in cash transactions “indefinitely with businesses that choose to accept them.”

Pennies aren’t even going the way of ounces, miles, yards, the one-dollar bill and the two-dollar bill. Those all morphed into kilometres, metres, millilitres, the loonie and the toonie.

When the penny eventually becomes obsolete we will have to change some of our favourite idioms like “a penny saved is a penny earned,” “a penny for your thoughts,” and “I’ll put in my two cents.” Could penny loafers evolve into loonie loafers? What will future generations of our children know about the penny?  Will it be something they will read about in school books just like the dinosaur?

Well that’s my two cents worth! A penny for your thoughts?

-- Donna Donaldson, MSN Money



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