Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Next up for Martin: Dump the nickel

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OTTAWA -- Making cents made no sense, but getting rid of the penny is only the beginning, says NDP MP Pat Martin.

As the Royal Canadian Mint stops distributing pennies today, Martin's eye is turning to the nickel and, eventually, the quarter.

The MP for Winnipeg Centre plans to launch a private member's motion by the end of the week to eliminate the five-cent coin and rejig the rest of Canada's currency. His "master plan" is to have a coin currency in multiples of 10s -- 10, 20 and 50-cent coins, and $1, $2 and $5 coins.

"One down, one to go," Martin told Postmedia News on Sunday.

"You keep it all at multiples of 10 and Bob's your uncle -- you've got a functioning currency system. There's just no good argument for keeping the nickel except for as a place to put the beaver."

Starting today, businesses are encouraged to begin rounding cash transactions to the nearest five-cent increment.

The rounding system after eliminating the nickel would be similar, Martin said. Total figures ending in one, two, three, four or five cents would round down, and those ending in six, seven, eight or nine cents would round up.

And, just as it applies to the penny's elimination, only cash transactions would be affected, Martin said.

While the business case for killing the nickel isn't quite as strong as it is for eliminating the penny, the nickel still costs more to produce than it's worth, Martin said.

And it would mean savings for the economy in terms of lost time and productivity -- people would go through checkout lines faster, clerks would spend less time making change, and businesses wouldn't have to deal with as much coinage, Martin said.

"If you're a reasonable-sized business, you're moving wheelbarrows full of nickels and pennies back and forth to the bank every month," Martin said.

"It's just a drain on the economy as well as an unnecessary cost to the mint."

Rejigging Canada's currency to keep it current, relevant and economic is an argument Martin's been making since 2008, when he first introduced a private member's bill to get rid of the penny.

-- National Post

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 4, 2013 A8

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