Stretching the dollar — literally

Like anything new, the so-called plastic money soon to be put into circulation is certain to be a conversation piece, and may even be poorly received.

Like anything new, the so-called plastic money soon to be put into circulation is certain to be a conversation piece, and may even be poorly received.

But knowing the new currency will likely save taxpayers a significant amount of money in the long run should make the adjustment to the new bills acceptable to most Canadians.

The federal government unveiled the new $100 bill recently, with the announcement that it will be in circulation by November.

The $50 bill will come along soon after. Smaller bills will be in circulation by 2013.

The bills are apparently thicker because they’re made with polymer, a kind of plastic that will be more durable than the paper bills we have now and expected to last 21/2 times longer. That means they’re likely to be bulkier in our wallets, which may be a nuisance for some people.

But making the change is sensible strategy. With the federal government aiming to eliminate the deficit and tackle the debt, it’s smart to start cutting where it’s easiest.

So why not start with the production of our money? If we can extend the life of our currency, we’re reducing the frequency with which we have to replace it.

That will translate into a savings.

We’re hardly novices at this. Canada created a stir in 1987 when it introduced the loonie to replace the paper $1 bill. Nine years later, we brought in the toonie to replace the $2 bill. Both of these initiatives generated some skepticism at first, but both have proven acceptable to Canadians and have no doubt dramatically reduced the costs of producing the currency.

According to Wikipedia, it costs 16 cents to produce a toonie, which is expected to last 20 years; that’s a far cry from the paper $2, which cost six cents to make but lasted only about a year.

There’s no need to go the coin route with the remaining denominations — our wallets are heavy enough with the loonie and the toonie — but making our bills a little more durable so that they don’t have to be replaced as often is a wise use of taxpayers’ dollars.

An editorial from the Charlottetown Guardian.