Winnipeg charities pine for pennies

Winnipeg business may not want your pennies anymore, but local charities sure do.

Penny's days are numbered

9 years ago
Duration 1:52
Canadian banks are no longer putting out pennies, but the one-cent coin won't be disappearing overnight in Winnipeg, Chris Glover reports. 1:52

Winnipeg business may not want your pennies anymore, but local charities sure do.

Starting Monday, the Royal Canadian Mint will no longer distribute Canada's one-cent coin. 

The penny will still be legal currency, but Canadian retailers don't have to give them out in change.

The major impetus behind the elimination of the penny was how much they cost to make.

It costs about 1.6 cents to make the one cent coin. For every five pennies produced, the government was paying 8 cents to make them.

In May 2011, the Mint stopped production of the penny. Now, banks will start collecting them.

Lanny McInnes of the Retail Council of Canada said about 55 per cent of retailers are prepared for the phase out.

"It certainly is going to be an adjustment. There’s no doubt about that," said McInnes. "There is definitely a cost with this transition."

McInnes said some larger businesses have purchased software for their registers to round the sale up or down at a cost of up to $100,000. Smaller businesses, he said, are doing it manually.

The Fyxx coffee shop in Winnipeg is working to adjust all of its prices so that they end in a multiple of five cents.

"It was a tricky process so [that] once with the tax included it would end up being an even number," said Madeline Bogoch.

The process is still not done and in some cases they’ve had to round up.

Bogoch said for the most part customers are understanding about the round up but not always.

"Once in a while someone gets angry, but I mean, you can always just try to make someone embarrassed about the fact that they are haggling over two pennies," said Bogoch.

Charities hope to cash in

Villa Rosa, a residence for prenatal and postnatal care for young women or new mothers in need, is looking for some of those unwanted pennies and has started a penny drive.

Executive director Kathy Strachan said the money raised will help pay for extras such as deodorant and body lotion.

"The kinds of things that a lot of people just take for granted, but we don't have a budget line for," she said.

"Some of our young moms who come in don't have all the supplies they need to get them through their pregnancy and day-to-day living," she said.

Strachan said people dropping off pennies don't have to roll them first.

"We hope to raise a thousand dollars," she said. "And that's going to take some rolling! I think we're going to have to have a rolling party, but that would be a good problem to have."

Pennies can be dropped off at Villa Rosa at 784 Wolseley Ave.

Villa Rosa isn’t the only charity hoping to cash in on the elimination of the penny.

Last year, Winnipeg seniors' residence All Seniors Care raised $1,721.28 in pennies for Winnipeg Harvest.

"If you give a penny to the food bank, their buying power is much more than yours. I think it’s three or four times the value of the penny," said Ronna Goldberg with All Seniors Care.

In a separate, national drive that also took place last year, All Seniors Care raised $5,379.87 among the 18 locations across Canada. Winnipeg's All Seniors Care chapter raised the third most in the country.