Whether rounding up or down post-penny, the lack of a one-cent coin shouldn't make much difference to local businesses or consumers.
With Royal Canadian Mint set to stop distributing the penny Feb. 4, the federal Department of Finance has issued rounding guidelines to help businesses make a smooth transition to pennilessness. Under those guidelines, all cash transactions will be rounded after tax. A cash payment of $1.02 would go down to $1, for example, and a payment of $1.04 would go up to $1.05. Cheque and electronic payments won't be rounded.
Local business owners haven't expressed concerns about how they will proceed once the penny goes out of circulation, according to Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce president Darren Boras.
"I would guess that the impact is actually going to be quite small because most transactions these days are electronic transactions, whether it's debit card, credit card. The amount of people actually carrying cash these days is a lot less," he said. "I think it would've been a bigger issue quite a few years ago, but now, electronic payments are so common."
The Consumers' Association of Canada doesn't think customers should be concerned about the switch, either.
"Consumers should sit back and just let it happen, as far as I'm concerned," said Bruce Cran, the association's president. "This has been done for 15 to 20 years in other parts of the world - Australia, New Zealand - and it's caused absolutely no trouble at all. I don't see any problems developing here and it'll be a very smooth transition."
Cran believes the nickel should disappear next.
"Coins are not used very much anymore and in fact a lot of coins that are theoretically in circulation are actually dumped in tins and bins. The banks don't take them unless they're wrapped up and presented in a certain way, and there's just no value to them at all. So as far as we're concerned at the Consumers' Association, the quicker they get on and remove the five-cent coin, the better we'll all be," he said.
The federal government estimates that getting rid of the penny will save about $11 million a year.
More information is available at www.fin.gc.ca.