It always amazes me how uncommon “common sense” seems to be. Case in point, the elimination of the penny. After years of NDP MP Pat Martin pushing to get the penny eliminated, the Tory government of finance minister Jim Flaherty finally axed the coin early last year after being announced in the previous year’s budget.
Some people do not agree that the penny should have been eliminated, and someone took to stating that displeasure about Jim Flaherty’s involvement in the whole matter after the announcement of his retirement from politics. From Sound Off in the March 26th edition of the Brandon Sun,
“I will always be able to relate that Flaherty was the minister who, along with MP Pat Martin (NDP), took it upon themselves to eliminate part of the Canadian coinage system that was the foundation and building mainstay of money counting and saving. They called the one cent useless and excised its existence. There were other options that needed weeding, but no, the one-cent piece became their victim and was sacrificed on the stained altar of common sense.”
I’m really not sure what the writer was talking about. The one cent piece was useless to buy anything. We have now eliminated it, and as someone who works in a retail store, we don’t miss it one bit. In fact, everybody adjusted to the new reality in less than a week, and other than a few people thinking that pennies were illegal to use, there was no hiccups that I can remember. Pennies will remain legal tender for the foreseeable future, but no one uses them much anymore after only a year. As for being the foundation of our monetary system, I suppose there is an argument for that, but we once had half-cent coins before Confederation, and getting rid of that foundation didn’t hurt us.
I personally think that we didn’t go far enough. We should get rid of the nickel too. The CBC reported last year that according to Jean-Pierre Aubry of the Desjardin Group we should soon be getting rid of the 5 cent piece. He says, and I agree, that the nickel is approaching the point that the penny was at in 1982, the year that he says we should have gotten rid of the penny.
We really need to look at what these coins are costing us and if they have a use anymore. It is not sensible, despite so-called common sense, to keep using a coin that costs us more to make and handle than it is worth.
To me, the dime should really be the lowest denomination in our monetary system. Despite what the Sound Off writer says, it is the dollar that is the basis of our money, and the coinage smaller than it are only there to break it into parts; in 2014, 10 parts is enough.
Without a nickel of course, we can no longer have quarters, so those would go too. My assumption is that we would have a 10¢, 20¢, and 50¢ coin along with the loonie and toonie. At that point we could get rid of the rounding up or down system we have now for cash transactions and go to only the one decimal place for cash and electronic transactions. We did okay rounding away the 3rd decimal place for a century, I’m sure we could do the same thing one decimal place over.
Since our coinage would have to be retooled, we need to look at this now. Getting rid of the penny was simple, but getting rid of the nickel will take more than just stopping circulation. We had the ability to leave the penny until long after it was useful because its removal was so easy. The nickel we’ll actually need a plan. We should probably ramp up 50¢ piece production and put a 20¢ piece into circulation fairly soon, so that we can slowly reduce quarters and nickels until that day when we get rid of them altogether. And if we’re going to introduce new coins, we should do it now while cash registers still have that extra spot left over from the penny. This one shouldn’t wait another 30 years to happen.