Rob Hardy / Silhouette Staff

After much deliberation, last week finally marked the implementation of the Canadian penny’s demise. Most Canadians either meet this news with approval or indifference. However, if we look at the matter more seriously (as we should) then it might become apparent that this irreversible decision isn’t such a good thing.

Many of us see pennies as simply a nuisance, something we gladly part with or even throw away, but therein lay the issue that is at the center of this debate. For people who are poor, on welfare or even homeless, money in any denomination has real tangible value. It is what makes the difference between a level of comfort and a life of misery. For people looking to stretch their budget as far as they can, saving a few cents every day over the course of a month literally allows them to keep their heads above water.

But once we enter a certain tax bracket and/or mindset of abundance, it is easy for many consumers to not care about spare change or see how their overall finances balance out.

Such attitudes lead to overconsumption, feeling safely distant from the threat of a negative bank balance. Indeed, it is this careless spending and financial perspective that has spurred Canada toward a reputation of near luxurious wealth. So, as we part with our savings more easily, so too does inflation rise and give way to further credit schemes. How can a mere penny have value for us when we deal with much larger numbers, albeit in abstract terms, when looking at monthly statements?

Yes, it’s absolutely true that producing the penny may not be economically viable anymore, but that is simply because we have priced ourselves beyond reason and common sense. No longer are price increases intermittent – they are taken for granted as “natural” when each calendar year changes. Just calculate how much your first year’s tuition will have gone up by your final year if you need any further proof.

It’s important to remember is that the penny is representational of our larger attitudes and beliefs toward financial solvency. It’s for good reason that the solid saying, “a penny saved is a penny earned” entered our verbal lexicon. Though one-cent tender will soon go the way of paper dollar bills, the lesson still applies, likely all the more as we will continue to see our cost of living rapidly increase.


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