The federal government has backed off from a proposal to replace Canada's $5 paper currency with a more economical $5 coin and use the savings to help fund the country's Olympic athletes.
The offbeat suggestion, first raised by the Royal Canadian Mint, was taken seriously enough by the Finance Department that it commissioned a polling firm last spring to conduct a focus-group study.
Participants reacted strongly when asked whether Canadian athletes headed to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver should benefit from the currency switch: "Give me a break! There are so many other burning issues where the money could be spent."
"I'm embarrassed to be Canadian sometimes."
"Do you freaking believe this?"
It's true that coins are cheaper than bills over the long run, since they last longer and don't need to be replaced as often. But coins are much more inconvenient to carry around than bills and easier to lose between the seat cushions.
Is the Department of Finance trying to convince Canadians of the benefits of a cashless society by making cash less convenient to carry around?
Note how many stores are refusing to take $50 and $100 bills because so many counterfeit notes are passing around. When the Bank of Canada phased out the $1000 bill to fight money laundering, crooks simply switched to bigger rolls of hundreds and fifties.
A $5 coin would almost force us to carry around coin changers like waiters just to go to the corner store.
In any event, tying the $5 coin's debut to Olympic athletes' funding--more metal for more medals--just would have made the $5 coin look like an even more foolish idea than it is.
Put it all together and it almost looks like a stealth program to make Canadians switch to debit cards (or microchips implanted in the forehead) by making them fed up with cash money.
Source: The Globe and Mail