Canada pitches the penny, wants charities to gain

Fri May 4, 2012 6:00pm EDT
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WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - Canada minted its final one-cent coin on Friday and urged people to donate the little copper-covered coins to charity rather than let them go to waste.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said a charitable donation would be an apt last stop for the pennies, which Canada is pulling from circulation later this year after 104 years.

"We hope all Canadians will consider putting their last pennies to good use by donating them to charity," Flaherty said. "I consider it fitting they could have a lasting impact on causes that Canadians believe in."

Habitat for Humanity, which builds homes for poor people, said it hopes to rake in 700 million Canadian pennies - worth $7 million - enough to build nearly 50 homes, said Sandy Hopkins, CEO of Habitat's Manitoba chapter.

Other charities may have to retool their fundraising efforts. The Winnipeg Free Press newspaper, for example, has long raised money for charity by collecting pennies, which many Canadians consider a nuisance.

Ottawa says the penny retained only one twentieth of the purchasing power it had when it was first minted. It costs 1.6 Canadian cents to produce each one-cent coin, and stamping out the penny will save around $11 million a year.

(Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg)

Jim Flaherty, Canadian Finance Minister and Minister responsible for the Royal Canadian Mint, holds the last penny produced at the Royal Canadian Mint in Winnipeg, May 4, 2012. REUTERS/Fred Greenslade