Although it was announced roughly six months ago, the country is once again abuzz with news of the penny dropping out of circulation because now the date is here.
February 4 was the day we were told to expect the change, and on that day in Lake Cowichan, seniors at the Lake Cowichan Seniors Centre were rolling pennies — just as they have been doing for years — for their annual penny-drive fundraiser for the Variety Heart Telethon and in homage to Nichole Stock — a young girl who grew up in Lake Cowichan.
“We’ll be rolling silver next year,” said Franklin Hornbrook, one of the seniors who was sitting amidst the stacks of copper coins.
“We’ll be doing nickels for Nichole,” added Val Burke, another coin roller.
The federal government issued notices encouraging businesses to start rounding cash transactions out to the nearest .05 cents. That means both rounding up and rounding down, so that a bill of $5.61 or $5.62 will cost the consumer only $5.60, and a bill of $5.63 or $5.64 will be raised to $5.65.
But buyer beware: this only affects cash transactions. The exact totals will remain the same for payments made electronically or by cheque.
If you are shopping in Lake Cowichan, stores like Country Grocer, Home Hardware and the B.C. Liquor store have all said they will begin the changeover this week for cash transactions. Even Tiptons Gas Bar has the new information posted for the public.
The decision to phase out the penny is expected to save taxpayers an estimated $11 million per year. The rising cost of production relative to the face value, the increased accumulation of pennies by Canadians in their households, and environmental issues, not to mention the significant cost the penny imposes on retailers and financial institutions were all factors in the decision.
For all cash payments, only the final amount after the base price and taxes are taken into account will be subjected to rounding.