Canada pressed its final pennies into service today, making good on a budget-day pronouncement earlier this year to eliminate the coin from circulation, The Canadian Press reported.
By eliminating the penny, Canada saves $11 million annually; the coin actually costs 1.6 cents to produce and is nearly obsolete as Canadians continually shift to credit or debit cards.
“Unfortunately, this fine balance could not be maintained indefinitely,” Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said, according to CP. “Over time inflation eroded the purchasing power of the penny and multiplied its manufacturing costs.”
Flaherty was in Winnipeg this morning to press the button to produce the final penny, CBC News said.
The mint is shipping the last coins – mostly steel and copper plating today – to a museum.
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Eliminating the coin was a non-partisan move, and received good reviews from across the political spectrum.
“People don’t even bend over to pick them up off the ground anymore,” MP Pat Martin (NDP–Winnipeg Centre) told CBC. “If you throw one in a panhandler’s cup, you get the stink-eye from them.”
Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Israel and South Africa have also abandoned pennies, or their smallest coins, according to CBC.
Canada has produced about 35 billion pennies since 1858, CTV said.
Now, if a transaction ends in .01 or .02, merchants round down; however, if it ends in .03 or .04, it’s rounded up to .05.
“For more than 100 years, it was the workhorse of the Canadian economy,” Flaherty told CTV. “It used to actually buy something, but times change and it’s no longer useful.”
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