JP Pritchard

Spare Change: Canada to Stop Making Pennies

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Ablestock.com/Thinkstock(OTTAWA, Canada) — Say goodbye to the Canadian penny.

Lawmakers in Canada have decided it makes little sense — or cents — to continue making the 1-cent coin. Canada’s minister of finance, Jim Flaherty, announced the penny‘s demise during his 2012 budget speech Thursday.

“Pennies take up too much space on our dressers at home. They take up far too much time for small businesses trying to grow and create jobs,” Flaherty said.

He said each penny costs Canadian taxpayers one and a half cents to make.

That’s nothing compared to America’s wallet-whomping coin. According to the U.S. Treasury Department, an American penny costs 2.4 cents to mint.

Flaherty said Canada’s pennies will go out of circulation this fall.

Here in the U.S., the proposed 2013 budget for the Treasury Department already contains a measure that could change the coins Americans are used to finding and flipping. It proposes passing legislation that would give the secretary of the Treasury “flexibility to change the composition of coins to more cost-effective materials.”

In 2008 — back when the U.S. penny only cost 1.7 cents to make — then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson floated the idea of eliminating the coin, but it did not catch on. So far, the penny has seemed safe here in the States. Mark Weller, executive director of Americans for Common Cents, said that’s not likely to change anytime soon, thanks to high public support for the coin. He also said the U.S. Mint is wrapping up explorations of making pennies — as well as nickels, dimes and quarters — more efficiently.

But with Canadians killing off the coin, American lawmakers have to ask themselves, is change a bad thing?

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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