The penny is being retired because it actually costs 1.6 cents to produce and the federal government believes it can save $11 million a year by getting rid of the coins.
While the last penny was actually produced by the Royal Canadian Mint on May 4 and theyâ€™re not going to be distributed any more, Mint spokeswoman Christine Aquino said pennies remain legal tender and can still be used for purchases or exchanged at financial institutions.
But she couldnâ€™t say how long it will take for the Mint to reclaim those billions of pennies.
â€śWe have never done this in Canada,â€ť said Aquino. â€śWe estimate three to four years [to get pennies out of circulation].â€ť
Without using pennies, merchants are expect to round the final cash purchase price up or down.
For example, something costing $1.01 or $1.02 will go down to $1 while a bill of $1.03 or $1.04 would go up to $1.05.
The most important thing for consumer to remember, said Aquino, is that â€śthis is for cash transactions only.â€ť
If youâ€™re paying by credit or debit card, the price stays the same.
Probably most affected by this are merchants,
A recent survey by the Retail Council of Canada of its members found only 52.9 per cent were ready for the phase-out of the penny.
Just over half the respondents, 56.4 per cent, were going to implement the federal governmentâ€™s guidelines for rounding prices and even more, 66.8 per cent, were going to do it manually at the point of sale.
Most retailers, 81.5 per cent, believed the changes would cost their businesses $5,000 or less.
Mark Startup, a vice-president in the west division of the Retail Council, said just 20 per cent of point-of-sale transactions these days are cash. He doesnâ€™t think there will be any significant cost to consumers.
â€śThe net impact for consumers is that it balances out,â€ť said Startup.
If you happen to be stuck with a pile of pennies, you can always try improve your fortunes by pitching them down the nearest wishing well.
Probably a better bet is rolling them up and taking them to your bank to exchange for more usable cash.
Failing that, you can always donate your collection of coppers to a worthwhile charity.
Nationally, Free the Children has been collecting pennies in support of clean water projects around the world as part of its We Create Change campaign.
But there other charities looking for your pennies.
Accepting pennies, rolled or not, is the North Shore Resources Society, which has an office in Capilano Mall. More information is available at 604-985-7138.
The Small Animal Rescue Society of B.C. is holding penny drives April 21, July 21 and Oct. 21, but itâ€™s also taking any loose change you might have, as well as returnable bottles and cans and even Canadian Tire money.
In Kelowna, Habitat for Humanity is also collecting pennies to support affordable housing.
But if youâ€™re not inclined to roll your pennies up for the bank or donate them to charity, thereâ€™s always other uses â€” like tiling a floor.