Shortchanged By Cost, Canada Boots Penny

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The Canadian penny is no more. At least, that's what was announced Thursday in the Canadian government's 2012 federal budget. Because of the rising cost of metals, it takes more than one-cent to mint a penny.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Now to change in Canadian currency.

JIM FLAHERTY: Our government will do what everyone agrees should have been done long ago. Mr. Speaker, we will eliminate the penny.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

CORNISH: That's Canada's Finance Minister Jim Flaherty. He announced the death of the country's one-cent coin yesterday, starting this fall.

FLAHERTY: Mr. Speaker...

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I've got that on record.

SPEAKER ANDREW SCHEER: Order. Order. I'm sure the minister appreciates hearing your two cents, but we're...

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

CORNISH: So much for a penny for your thoughts, now it will cost you a nickel.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Canada isn't the first to abandon its humble, lowly coin. Australia, Sweden, Norway and a few other countries have already dropped them and proverbially not picked them up. Plus, Flaherty insists, this isn't really a loss but a financial gain.

FLAHERTY: Mr. Speaker, even the opposition members know that pennies take up too space on our dressers at home.

CORNISH: And in the Canadian federal budget. It costs more to mint a penny than what it's worth because of the rising costs of metals. The Canadian government estimates it loses $11 million or 1.1 billion pennies every year producing and distributing them.

SIEGEL: This isn't a personal vendetta against the penny, just a matter of pinching them.

CORNISH: Pennies will continue to be legal tender in Canada. But as they vanish from circulation, prices will be rounded up or down. For example, $1.02 cents will become just a dollar. And a dollar and three cents will be $1.05.

So, while it may still rain pennies from heaven, chances are you won't be finding them up north.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

CORNISH: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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