If you went shopping recently, you will notice that the familiar copper coins – pennies – are missing in the change that you received from your corner store.
Canada has now become a penny-less country. With the announcement by Ottawa recently that it was phasing out pennies from circulation, Canada has now entered the penny-less era.
Actually I hated the damn thing because most commodities were priced with .99 cents and one would come with pocket full of pennies in no time. If you went around with pocket full of pennies, it would be hard to find anything to spend on. Your friendly retailer will give you a nasty look if you tried to pay with pennies. I found them a burden to carry and mostly dropped them in donation boxes found in convenience stores.
It made sense to withdraw the cents for Royal Canadian Mint because it cost them more to produce a penny. Each penny cost the Mint 1.6 cents. It was simply not worth it. Added to that was also the cost of handling placed on retailers and financial institutions. While this cost-cutting measure will save taxpayers about $11m a year, according to the Mint, it is already costing a packet to the business community.
The business community has been obviously greatly affected by the passing of the pennies. From large departmental stores to the corner store has had to revamp their cash registers. They will have to spend money to accommodate the demise of the pennies.
Some stores have decided to round up their prices to the nearest five cents. Although the move to make Canada penniless was made about a year ago, businesses appear to be taken by surprise. They were unprepared and are now rushing to adjust their dealings with the public.
According to the guidelines issued by Ottawa, retailers have been given some flexibility in charging their customers. The government guidelines allow merchants to round prices. Hence, an item costing $1.03 would be charged $1.05, $1.07 to $1.05 and $1.08 to $1.10.
NDP MP Pat Martin, who has been advocating abolishing pennies since 1988, is pleased that the penny is finally out of circulation. “One down, one to go,” he said, turning his attention to scrape nickel and eventually the quarter. Martin plans to introduce a private member’s bill to get rid of the five cent coin.
It will take some time for everyone – consumers and businesses – to get used to the penny-less era. Majority of Canadians will definitely not miss them and breathe a sigh of relief to the passing of the pennies.
Canada is not the first country to get rid of the lowest denomination coin. Australia, Brazil, the Netherlands and Sweden have already got rid of the pennies and there are discussions currently in the United Kingdom and the U.S. to follow Canada’s lead. One in five British adults aged 18 to 24 throw small change in the bin because they think it’s a nuisance, according to a survey conducted a few years ago.
In spite of all this, it is comforting to know that parents will continue naming girls Penny. The name Penny will still be in circulation and the phrase ‘penny for your thoughts’ will still be used in conversations because these are areas that the Mint cannot touch.