Canadians can get their hands on the country's newest banknotes Monday — $100 bills made from a plastic polymer designed to last longer and thwart counterfeiters.

Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney will be on hand at an afternoon ceremony in Toronto to formally launch the bills. 

First announced in June, the bills are a departure from the current cotton-and-paper bills in circulation because they feature the latest in anti-counterfeiting technology.

Counterfeiting became a major problem between 2001 and 2004, when it peaked at 470 fake bills for every one million in circulation. Since then, officials have been able to use new technology to get that figure down to only about 35 fake bills for every one million in circulation today.

To fight that, the new bills have two transparent windows built into them that make them difficult to forge but easy to verify. One extends from the top to the bottom of the bill and has holographic images. Another window is in the shape of a maple leaf.

There is also transparent text, a metallic portrait, raised ink and partially hidden numbers throughout.


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The bill commemorates Canadian innovations in the field of medicine and features an updated portrait of onetime Canadian Prime Minister Robert Borden.

The $100 is just the first denomination to be released. A new $50 bill is expected in March, followed by new $20, $10 and $5 versions. All are expected by the end of 2013.

Because they are made of durable polymer, the new bills are expected to last 2.5 times as long as the current ones. That alone could save the government $200 million or more over the life of the series, officials say.