Physical currency is one of the oldest forms of human technology still in use today, and the lowly penny still sits in pockets alongside high-tech forms of printed money and electronic forms of payment — but Canada's 2012 federal budget will eliminate production of the penny starting this fall in order to save costs. The budget claims that the coin is a "burden to the economy," as it it costs the Canadian government 1.6 cents to produce each penny — and Canada estimates that it will save about $11 million a year with its elimination. Canada joins a growing number of countries in sacking the penny, including Sweden, New Zealand, Mexico, Australia, Israel, Brazil, and others, and the penny debate is currently ongoing in the US.
The move could make for an awkward transition period for retailers, since taxes and conventional pricing can land in-between five-cent increments, but the government recommends rounding up or down for cash transactions. Since checks and electronic transactions don't require physical coinage, those forms of payment will be unaffected by the change, and Canada's base unit of currency will remain at one cent.