There appears to be quite a bit of confusion surrounding the announcement made in Budget 2012 that the penny would be eliminated from our coinage system. Some Canadians believe that by eliminating the penny, businesses would always round up the cost of individual items and hence drive up prices. That is not quite true.
The Federal Government is simply going to stop producing and distributing pennies as of Fall 2012. Existing pennies will remain in circulation but over time, as the supply of pennies diminishes, businesses will resort to rounding off on cash transactions. Here’s an example: You walk into a dollar store and purchase an item selling for $1.25. Add 13% HST and the final tally is $1.4125. If you are paying cash, the store will round down the price to $1.40. Another customer buying 11 items and paying cash will be charged $15.55 ($15.5375 rounded up), not $15.95 ($1.4125 rounded up to $1.45 * 11). There is already many good examples of this principle at work such as gas prices, which often have a lowest unit of a tenth of a cent.
The eventual elimination of the penny will have no effect on credit, debit, cheque and electronic payments, where the cent will remain the smallest pricing unit. And even if every single retailer refuses to play ball and opts to round up the total final cost to the nearest nickel, it is a cost well worth paying for the hassle of dealing with those pesky pennies.