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Ottawa, February 4, 2013
2013-015

Government of Canada and the Royal Canadian Mint Bid Farewell to the Canadian Penny

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Shelly Glover, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, and Ian E. Bennett, President and CEO of the Royal Canadian Mint, today marked the official transition date for the phase-out of the penny.

As of today the Mint will cease distributing pennies to financial institutions, and the supply of pennies in circulation will begin to decline.

“Pennies have sat idle for too long in forgotten penny jars and couch crevices,” said Parliamentary Secretary Glover. They demand too much time, for too little return, of our small business owners, and they cost too much to make: nearly 1.6 cents goes into every penny. It is time to bid the penny a fond farewell.”

“Today the Mint is marking the end of an era in Canada’s coinage history with the final distribution of the penny,” said Mr. Bennett. “The Mint has produced this coin for Canada since 1908, and the sun is finally setting on one small part of our currency system which once played a big part in our daily lives.”

The phase-out of the penny will have no impact on cheque payments or electronic transactions. Moreover, the penny will retain its value indefinitely, and can continue to be used in cash transactions with businesses that choose to accept them.

For cash payments, businesses are expected to round the final amount—or equivalently, the change owed—of any cash payment in a fair, consistent and transparent manner. Experience in other countries that have phased out low-denomination coins has shown that fair rounding practices have been respected.

For its part, the Government has elected to round cash payments symmetrically. Under this rounding practice, final cash amounts:

  • ending in 1, 2, 6 and 7 cents will be rounded down. Example: $1.57 will be rounded to $1.55;
  • ending in 3, 4, 8 and 9 cents will be rounded up. Example: $1.53 will be rounded to $1.55; and
  • ending in 0 cents and 5 cents will remain the same.

Once fully implemented, the estimated ongoing savings for taxpayers from not making pennies is $11 million every year.

Today’s transition date fulfills a commitment made in Economic Action Plan 2012. On May 4, 2012, Minister Flaherty struck the last penny at the Mint’s high-speed manufacturing facility in Winnipeg.

The transition date was announced in July 2012 following initial consultations with small businesses and retailers, who requested the transition date occur early in the new year to ensure ample time to prepare their business, train staff and better inform consumers.

In support of this, the Government has likewise undertaken a cost-efficient public awareness campaign prior to today’s phase-out date, featuring an online toolkit that includes point-of-sale signs that retailers can download and display in their stores, and answers to frequently asked questions tailored to businesses, consumers and charities. These efforts have been complemented through a dynamic social media campaign spearheaded by the Mint that is currently underway.

In addition, information was made available at over 2,500 urban and rural Canada Post outlets and prominently displayed in Service Canada offices nationwide.

Ms. Glover and Mr. Bennett were joined on this occasion by Diane Brisebois, President and CEO of the Retail Council of Canada. “We are very pleased to be here today in this effort to continue to raise awareness of the changes to Canada’s currency with consumers. This government’s cooperative approach has enabled retailers to prepare themselves and their customers for the phase–out, and their willingness to delay the implementation has given retailers time to adapt. As well, we have worked collaboratively alongside departmental officials to help develop tools for our members to use during the phase-out, which will provide consumers with the information they need at the point of sale,” said Ms. Brisebois.

“As a way to put Canada’s remaining pennies to the best possible use, I encourage Canadians to consider giving their pennies to one of the many deserving charities trying to effect real change,” said Parliamentary Secretary Glover.

Phasing out the penny is part of Economic Action Plan 2012. For more information on this and other Economic Action Plan measures, call 1 800 O-Canada (1-800-622-6232); TTY: 1-800-926-9105.

For further information, media may contact:

Mary Ann Dewey-Plante
Director of Strategic Communications
Office of the Minister of Finance
613-996-7861

Jack Aubry
Media Relations
Department of Finance
613-996-8080

Christine Aquino
Director, Communications
Royal Canadian Mint
613-993-9999
aquino@mint.ca

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