Canada to be penniless -- no new 1-cent coins after April

8:57 PM, Mar 29, 2012   |    comments
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By Michael Winter, USA TODAY  

Canada's conservative government released its 2012 budget today, and the penny is among the $5.2 billion in cuts, according to news reports from the north.

After 150 years, the last Canadian penny will be minted in April, The Globe and Mail says. The royal mint will stop distributing pennies to financial institutions in the fall and start working to withdraw them from circulation.

The penny has cost Canada a pretty penny. It now costs 1.6 cents to produce every copper-nickel cent, and the government estimates it loses $11 million a year producing and distributing pennies, CBC News says. And a study by a Canadian bank estimated it cost the private sector $150 million in 2006 to count, store and transport the little coin.

In explaining the death of the smallest denomination, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Finance Ministry called it a "nuisance," and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty told lawmakers they "take up too much space on our dressers at home" and "far too much time for small businesses trying to grow and create jobs."

For for shoppers and businesses, the result will be a round world.

As the Globe and Mail writes, "This means Canadians must get used to rounding off cash transactions if they've got no pennies on hand - an arrangement the federal government says it's leaving to consumers and businesses to work out."

The government suggests rounding to the nearest five-cent increment. But for penny pinchers, it remains legal tender.

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