End of an era

The penny will soon be gone, but will anyone really miss it?

The penny will soon be gone, but will anyone really miss it?

When Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced the federal budget Thursday, the long-awaited announcement of the gradual phasing out of the penny should’ve surprised no one. The issue of the devaluation of the penny has run the gander of public debate for years, and by now the only question left should be what took so long?

In getting rid of the penny, Canada joins nations such as Australia, Brazil, the Netherlands, Britain and Sweden (among others) in a penniless system. The government spends over $130 million per year to keep the roughly 30 billion pennies we have in circulation, and while they have become virtually worthless since they were first minted in Canada in 1908, the Mint still churns out about 25 pennies per Canadian per year, at the cost of about 1.5 cents each.

Critics of the move will point out that in the absence of the penny, prices can be rounded up to the closest five cents, which could raise the overall cost of living in the long run, but for most Canadians the change will be negligible. Most of us will just be glad to be rid of the burdensome copper-plated zinc annoyances that weigh down our pockets and purses on a daily basis. The penny may have made sense in the early 1900s, but with the value at just a quarter of what it was originally worth, it was high time we left the penny behind in an era where wireless transactions have become more and more prevalent.

However, one must feel for the wishing well industry, which figures to be the hardest hit among us.

On a side note, we here at The Echo would like to wish our former editor Andrea Klassen a fond farewell. Andrea had been with The Echo for the past nine months, however greener pastures were impossible to resist. We wish her the best of luck in Kamloops with her new newspaper, and will truly miss her infectious spirit and dedication around the office.