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2010s / Canada Discontinues Pennies
On May 4, 2012 Canada's Finance Minister Jim Flaherty was on hand at the Royal Canadian Mint to see the last penny roll off the line. Six weeks earlier he had announced that Canada's one-cent coin would be discontinued. An overwhelming majority of Canadians applauded the government's decision. Most felt the move was long overdue. Citing low purchasing power and rising production costs, the government decided to phase the penny out of existence starting in the fall of 2012, when the Royal Canadian Mint will stop distributing the one-cent coin to financial institutions. Over time, that will lead to the penny effectively becoming extinct, although the government noted that one-cent coins will always be accepted in cash transactions for as long as people still hold on to them. The value of the penny has decreased to about 1/20th of its purchasing power in the last 100 years. Indeed, the lowly penny has fallen so far that Ottawa described it as a "burden to the [Canadian] economy" in a pamphlet explaining the change. In part because of rising prices for the metals it's made of, it actually costs 1.6 cents to produce every penny. The government estimates it loses $11 million a year producing and distributing the penny, and that doesn't include the costs and frustrations for businesses and consumers that use them in transactions.