April 2, 2012

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Commentary by Tom Morton

The lowly penny has met its demise with the announcement by the Minister of Finance in his budget speech on March 29, 2012.  The Minister said:

“Our government will do what everyone agrees should have been done long ago. We will eliminate the penny. Pennies take up too much space on our dressers at home. They take up far too much time for small businesses trying to grow and create jobs. It costs taxpayers a penny-and-a-half every time we make one. We will, therefore, stop making them.”

This seems to be a bit of a cold way of saying goodbye to something that we have lived with for over a century.  The Mint will stop producing pennies as soon as next month; however, it will be a long time before they are missed.  Over the years the Mint has produced over 30 billion pennies, resulting in an abundance of pennies.  We will still be able to use pennies to pay for our purchases until the fall of this year, but one suspects we will soon be getting dirty looks from store clerks and cashiers if we try to use them. 

How will this affect our life?  Well, aside from making our change purses lighter and clearing space on the Finance Minister’s dresser, it will not have a huge impact.  Cash transactions will be rounded to the nearest nickel, but non-cash transactions such as credit card, debit card and cheques will still use the penny.  This begs the question, how soon before we see a financial planning pundit suggesting we no longer pay cash and use only credit cards and debit cards to save money because when we use cash we could pay $0.02 on a purchase by avoiding the cost being rounded up.  It may be that the penny is already gone… I could not find the cent symbol when I wrote this piece and even the word “cent” comes up on spell check as not being a word.   Alas poor penny, I guess you are already gone.  

To read what else the 2012 Federal Budget had to say, click here.

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