Canada needs some new cliches.
It’s time to scrap “a penny for your thoughts” and “a penny saved is a penny earned.”
The Canadian penny is headed toward extinction.
Monday, the Royal Canadian Mint began withdrawing pennies from circulation, no longer distributing them to businesses and banks.
Many businesses followed suit, rounding their prices up or down to the nearest nickel. That means that a $3.88 or $3.89 cash purchase would be rounded up to $3.90, while $3.87 or $3.86 would become $3.85.
In a brief tour up and down Garrison Road in Fort Erie , Ont., on Monday, it was hard to find anyone disputing the efforts to phase out the penny in the Land of the Maple Leaf.
Heck, it’s not as if Canada is lacking in coins. The nation still has its $1 and $2 coins, the “loonies” and “toonies.”
“It’s not going to be a major problem,” Ron Annett, 63, a retired Fort Erie Water Department worker, said just outside a Tim Hortons. “I think carrying coins is a pain in the butt. It’s the same with the loonies and toonies. They just weigh your pockets down.”
Annett didn’t even have to deal with the rounded-penny factor at Tim Hortons. He used a debit card, and the new policy doesn’t apply to credit or debit purchases.
Tim Hortons, like many businesses, already has responded to the new government policy, by rounding off all cash transactions.
For example, a person using a $5 bill to pay for a breakfast that cost $3.87, including tax, got a receipt stating “Change Due: $1.13” and “Rounded Change Due: $1.15.”
“It’s sensible, because it costs 1.6 cents to make a penny, so that costs taxpayers,” said Don Olsen, a retired aircraft inspector from Fort Erie. “I’m glad they’re getting rid of it. I’ve seen a lot of changes in my life. That’s a sensible one.”
“It just makes your purse heavier,” his wife, Lynn, said of the pennies.
Ten people interviewed laughed about the rounding up and down.
“You win some, you lose some,” said Taylor Sherk, 27, a Canadian utility worker.
“It balances out in the end,” co-worker Tom Trasmundi added.
Not all businesses reacted immediately by rounding off prices.
“It’s going to take a while before our machines are reconfigured – in a couple of months, I believe – so we’re going to be using pennies for a while,” one Walmart worker explained.
Up the street, Chan Kim, owner of EJ’s Variety, wasn’t clear about the new policies, although his store already was rounding up or down.
“We want to get rid of pennies,” he said. “I have no idea what the law is. If the customers pay in pennies, do I have to accept them?”
Some customers didn’t even know about the rounding after their purchases.
Mark McKinnon, 45, bought a tin of chewing tobacco, for $15.81, paid with a $20 bill and got $4.20 in change.
“Wow,” he said sarcastically. “I’m ecstatic.”
Some businesses are trying to turn the excess pocket weight into a good cause.
Walmart, for example, had jars accepting pennies for the Community Outreach Program Erie (COPE), a food drive aiming to collect one million pennies, or $10,000.
On the American side, Walden Galleria on Monday began a monthlong Penny Drop, set up at Customer Service in the upper level near Macy’s. That money will go to a Canadian charity suggested by customers.
Two Canadians walking in the mall seemed to sum up a nation’s view of dumping the penny.
“I think it’s a good idea,” said Chris Ogden, 29, of Oshawa, Ont. “I think they’re just kind of a nuisance.”
“I’ve never really thought about the penny,” added his girlfriend, Emily Easa. “When I get pennies, they go into a big jar. They’re going to go toward a vacation.”
Ogden puts all his coins, even loonies and toonies, into coin rolls.
“I use ’em to go to Las Vegas,” he said.