OTTAWA – An internal federal analysis shows the government has studied the pros and cons of the nickel — but Ottawa insists it has no plans to force the five-cent coin into retirement, as it did the penny.
When the Royal Canadian Mint yanked the penny from circulation in 2013, the nickel became the country’s smallest circulating denomination of pocket change. Since then, many people have expected it would only be a matter of time before Ottawa also eliminated the nickel.
Earlier this year, a Finance Department memo to senior officials examined the nickel’s purchasing power, usage and production costs. Much of the April document, obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act, was blacked out, including the “assessment” portion that likely discussed the coin’s future.
The uncensored portions of the memo explored the significance of the nickel in a post-penny era.As there are virtually no goods or services that can be purchased for a nickel, or several multiples thereof, the coin is generally used only to make change as part of larger transactions,” said the memo, prepared for deputy finance minister Paul Rochon.
“The purchasing power of the nickel has eroded over time, relative both to prices and incomes.” The nickel’s purchasing power has tumbled 40 per cent over the last 25 years, the study said. Over a century ago — in 1914 — the nickel was worth more than a loonie in today’s terms, the document added.
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