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Goodbye to the penny

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A penny for your thoughts?

We may have to settle for a nickel or a dime over the next few weeks or months, as pennies are phased out.

As of Monday Feb. 4, businesses across the country began phasing out the penny - a move made nearly a year ago by the federal government in last year’s budget to cut costs.

“We’re just getting rid of the coins not the cents. There’s still 100 cents in a dollar,” said a Ministry of Finance spokesperson on Monday. “It will even out in the end. If you’re paying with your debit card, sometimes you’ll pay the extra two cents and sometimes you’ll gain the two cents.

“With a debit and credit card you’re paying the exact amount, and with cash you round it up or you round it down.”

Local residents appear to be taking the move well and, according to some local stores, are adjusting to the changes in Canadian currency.

“Everybody understands that the penny’s going. It just takes the staff a little time to figure out whether they’re suppose to round up or round down, but it’s not a big deal I think,” said Tom Graham, co-owner and general manager of Coward Pharmacy in Tillsonburg.

“We had a meeting this morning (Monday), talked to the staff and we posted some signs with the numbers so that they would understand if it’s over three cents they round it up to a nickel and if it’s below that it rounds down.”

Graham doesn’t believe there will be a negative impact on projected revenues from sales.

“We do a lot of business with Visa, Master card and debit, quite a bit of it – a lot more than cash really. So everything’s going to be billed that way and so the pennies will still count.”

Pam Cupples, store manager at Trinkets Gift Shop on Broadway, and feels the same way.

“No complaints or nothing, everybody knows what’s going on, so it seems like everybody’s okay with it,” she said.

“They knew it was going to happen and understand why the penny is not really important anymore.”

Cupples questioned the difference in customers paying by debit or paying by cash.

“I feel that we should have to do it with both because some people don’t pull out money or cash, they want to know the price first before they decide what they’re going to use. It should be rounded with both or not rounded at all.”

The Department of Finance in Ottawa is removing the penny from Canadian currency for many reasons.

“It was costing 1.6 cents to produce each one and it was found that people weren’t always using them,” said the Finance spokesperson. “The government is saving $11 million dollars a year by doing this.”

Other countries such as Australia and New Zealand said goodbye to the penny almost 20 years ago.

“Experience with other countries have shown that the rounding proceeds fairly,” he said. “It’s good to have examples of other countries that have done this.”

The Royal Canadian Mint stopped producing pennies last May, and as of Monday stopped shipping them to retailers and banks.

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