Thoughts for your penny?

Andrew Robinson
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Phasing out of the one-cent coin gets mixed reaction


This fall, production of the Canadian penny will cease

to be, as was announced recently in the 2012 federal budget.

For Samantha Murray, a Grade 10 student at Holy Heart High School in St. John’s, such news is long overdue.

“It costs so much money to make (them). ... There’s no point to (the penny) at all.”

Murray wrote a letter to the editor last summer bemoaning the existence of the penny, pointing out that a person cannot buy anything with a single penny.

She suspects the only reason the penny has remained in circulation up until now is because people are afraid of change. “Get over it. Change is good,” she said.

St. John’s Board of Trade chairman Steve Power said the elimination of the penny is a non-issue for businesses, noting many already have an informal policy of rounding up change to avoid using pennies.

“We think it’s something that makes sense, and it’s savings for the taxpayer. It happened in other countries successfully, and we think it makes a lot of sense.”

According to the budget, the federal government will save $11 million annually by not producing the penny.


While it may leave people with less change jingling in their pockets, there are those who wouldn’t mind seeing it stick around.

“I’m hoping that people are going to give us their pennies while they still can,” said Sherry Humber, literacy projects manager for the Newfoundland and Labrador Laubach Literacy Council (NLLLC).

Each year, the charitable group holds its Roll Pennies for Pages campaign, encouraging people in the province to donate rolls of pennies to help NLLLC purchase materials and supplies for its one-on-one literacy tutoring programs.

While a penny might not seem like much, she said those collected by NLLLC help a great deal in paying for new materials.

Collecting pennies is not worth the effort for Easter Seals Newfoundland and Labrador. It used to collect them through schools in the province, but executive director Mark Lane said the campaign became too labour intensive to continue.

For Easter Seals, the cost for every dollar it raises should not rise above 35 per cent. In the case of the Penny Power campaign, Lane said Easter Seals was not meeting that target.

“The problem with the Penny Power campaign is it started to go south in terms of not having that right ratio and not getting a good return on the amount of human resource investment that went into it,” he said.

“Maybe we could do something with the nickel. Maybe that would be more profitable for a charity like ourselves.”

Humber is skeptical about the possibility of nickels becoming a new standard for loose change campaigns.

“My mom gets pennies, she takes them and puts them away for me for work. It’s just a penny, right? Most people would rather put them away than have to use them. They don’t want them in their pockets. … When it comes to a nickel each time, that’s a lot more money for some people.”

While its Penny Power campaign might be history, Lane said Easter Seals still collects one-cent coins from local fountains — on the day he spoke to The Telegram, he had earlier made a visit to a St. John’s hotel to do just that.

“To me, it sounds like the penny is worth more as a form of copper by itself.”

Twitter: TeleAndrew

— With files from Chris Roberts

Organizations: Newfoundland and Labrador Laubach Literacy Council, Holy Heart High School, Board of Trade

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Recent comments

  • Jeremy
    April 12, 2012 - 17:45

    Your comment is valid up until 1996, at which point the Canadian penny went from 97% copper, to about 2%. Like you said, This change was brought about by the penny becoming more valuable as raw material than as currency. Also why new pennies are attracted to magnets and the old ones are not. There's a wikipedia Page all about the pennies and their composition throughout history.

  • Anon
    April 12, 2012 - 07:40

    Oh how grand it must be to be so ignorant of Canada's monetary system. The penny as it stands is a godsend. It's worth more tangibly than it is as a piece of FIAT currency and therein lies the real reason they are axing the penny. Ten Million dollars savings is a drop in the bucket. This is about maintaining control of the banks for if people discovered that holding a million dollars worth of pennies would appreciate in value as the price of the materials the pennies are made from increases more than the currency its self, they will have found a way to beat FIAT currency and manipulation by the banks outside of the normal pathways of Gold and Silver, that any joe blow could do. Think about it. saving up 50 dollars was a lot of money in 1962, fifty years later and it's not even enough to fill up the car. fifty dollars worth of pennies today will be worth far more than fifty dollars cash will be in fifty years. This creates an escape from inflation that the banking cartels and tories are happy to eliminate. Economic momentum is too great for the resources left on this planet. These are the same crooks that lend out 1.2 trillion dollars with only 4 billion dollars in reserve. Wake up and protect yourself from the coming economic collapse before it's too late. Buy Gold, Buy Silver and tell your politicians to end FIAT currency, Fractional Reserve banking and Compound interest - or you'll be wishing you'd saved your pennies.

    • Ash
      April 12, 2012 - 08:17

      Stating that "change is good" sounds contradictory to