By Chet Greason
This week, you may notice the change you receive after buying your morning cup of coffee or picking up your prescription seems somewhat lighter. This is because, beginning Monday, Feb. 4, the penny will no longer be distributed to businesses or financial institutions.
It’s all part of the federal government’s move to eliminate the one cent coin, and businesses are dealing with it in different ways.
Joan Smith, owner of the local Tim Hortons on Queen Street, says her business, which sees large amounts of change pass through it daily, will no longer give out the penny. Should a transaction be done by debit, credit, or Tim’s Card, the price you pay will remain the same. However, should you pay in cash, your total, after taxes, will be rounded up or down to the nearest multiple of five. Therefore, if your change works out to $1.01 or $1.02, you’ll receive $1 back. If it’s $1.03 or $1.04, you’ll receive $1.05. This is per federal regulation, which Smith has posted at the entrance to the coffee and donut shop.
“Even if we have pennies in the drawer, we won’t give them out,” she explains. “But we’ll accept them still. We’ll accept them forever...They’re still legal tender.”
Smith adds that she isn’t worried about the change, because the combination of rounding up and down will even out in the end.
Cathy Forster, owner of Jackson’s Pharmacy on Wellington Street, also says she’s not worried about the loss of the penny. “We’ll still give them out as long as we have them,” she says, adding that she’s waiting on operating system software adjustments and word from accountants regarding the changes before details are worked out.
“As far as we know, (the rounding up/down system) is a suggestion,” says Forster. “We’re going to do business as usual until we run out of pennies.”
According to Carol Taylor, branch manager at Scotiabank’s St. Marys location, any pennies that the institution receives will be sent away and melted down, to be used as base metals for other coins.
Scotiabank has even introduced penny bags that hold $25 worth of the coin and are measured by a fill line.
Like Tim Hortons, the bank will be accepting pennies, but will not be distributing them. Taylor notes that any profit made by the bank while rounding up will be recorded and donated to charity.
X-Park needs pennies
If you’re looking to get rid of your pennies, there’s one fine receptacle open for civic-minded residents: The X-Park fundraising campaign is $24,000 short of its needed total. Organizer Carey Pope says they could potentially begin building; however, more money is needed to complete the BMX and skate park as per the current design.
X-Park organizers hope that people will donate their last few pennies to the park. A large bucket has been placed in Scotiabank this week to collect people’s unneeded pennies for this purpose.
“They really add up,” says Pope.
As an added incentive, Carol Taylor says that any funds received by the bucket will be matched by Scotiabank.
If you’d like to host the X-Park’s penny bucket at your place of business, contact the town hall.