It's a terrible waste for something that has virtually no value. People throw the darn things away or squirrel them away in jars and out of circulation, forcing the government to produce more cents. It doesn't make any sense. Why do we continue to allow this to happen? I was heartened by a nationwide poll a few months back that suggested almost 60% of Canadians would be in favour of scrapping the Penny. I have no idea what the other 40% are thinking, but the majority of Canadians are thinking with their heads.
I haven't heard a good argument for keeping the one cent coin. In fact, the only thing I ever hear is that merchants will round the price up if the Penny is discontinued. Really? Is that it? We're going to continue to waste money and resources, because someone is afraid they might have to pay a couple more cents for their cup of coffee, which they are already paying $3 or $4 for anyway. Big deal, I say. Even if the price did get rounded, the sky isn't going to fall, as other more progressive and forward thinking countries have already done away with their low denomination coins.
When I saw this poll in the news, I thought I would ask the Federal Government what their position was on this issue (I asked the candidates in my riding during the last election, and none bothered to respond, even the Green Party candidate whose biggest accomplishments were that he grew up in the riding, learned to ride his bike in the riding, and went on his first date in the riding, I digress).
I sent the following email to the Department of Finance on August 17th:
For some time I have wondered why Canada continues to produce the one cent coin. Today, they are of little value, which is witnessed as people more often throw them away, or toss them in jars, putting them out of circulation. Public opinion polls suggest that the majority of Canadians want to get rid of the one cent coin, yet the government seemingly doesn't have an interest in stopping production of the coin.
I would be interested in knowing why the government continues to produce the one cent coin, and if there is a plan to stop production in the near future?
I look forward to hearing from someone.
The other day, more than two months after sending my message, I received the most patronizing, meaningless, absurd response from James Flaherty, the Minister of Finance (okay, I know he knew nothing of my message, but he signed the inane letter). He didn't even answer my questions.
Here is the text of the letter:
Dear Mr. Donohue:
Thank you for your correspondence of August 17, 2010 regarding Canadian currency.
The Government of Canada's objective is to serve the coinage transaction needs of Canadians. In collaboration with the Royal Canadian Mint and the Bank of Canada, the Department of Finance Canada works to ensure that our economy has a sufficient quantity and appropriate denominations of coins and bank notes to meet the financial needs of Canadians. We assess the use of currency denominations by Canadians regularly to determine how best to serve their needs.
Thank you for communicating your concerns.
James M. Flaherty
How much did they pay someone to write that drivel? I don't know what's worse, the fact it took two months to get a response or the nonsensical letter itself.
My two questions are still outstanding -- why does the Government continue to produce the one cent coin, and is there is a plan to stop production in the near future?
I wonder if the lackey that wrote this letter has any idea that the Canadian Senate's National Finance Committee has been holding hearings on this issue, since last Spring. (yes, apparently they actually do something). I'm not sure why that's necessary, but if they must.
And a week or two before I received the missive from Mr. Flaherty's office, the head of New Zealand’s Reserve Bank currency department told the hearing about his country's move to get rid of their one and two cent coins in 1989 (yes, that's more than two decades ago)
“The one- and two-cent coins had lost their value and no longer had any effective purchasing power, and as in Canada, the coins had become more costly to produce than they were worth. So it was a relatively straight-forward exercise”
No kidding! Of course it's straight-forward. It was reported that the Committee is expected to report its findings to Mr. Flaherty in the coming months. So, why wasn't that information included in the response from the Minister's office?
It may seem like a small issue (though it can't be if a Senate committee is spending months studying this), but to me it's a small win. It just makes sense. The majority of Canadians see it that way, as have other countries.