Vendors prepare for lighter loonie
Published Monday, April 30, 2012 6:05PM MDT
The Royal Canadian Mint has released a new version of the loonie and toonie in an effort to save money but those who own vending machines are now on the hook for upgrades so their machines will recognized the lighter coins.
The new coins are expected to save taxpayers about $16 million annually.
The coins are made of steel and are replacing the old nickel based coins and are lighter, cheaper to produce and ship, and harder to counterfeit.
The downside is that Canada's coin-operated industries will have to shell out about $40 million in recalibration costs to make vending machines recognize the new coinage.
In addition, the businesses who count their coins by weight will have to first separate the old currency from the new.
Jay Toporowski fixes vending machines in Calgary for a living and is reprogramming up to forty machines a day to accept the new coins.
"It's a really big hassle for all my customers. It's time to go out and get all these done. It's luckier nowadays to where quite a few of the coin mechs can go out and be programmed on site, which saves a lot of time and effort. The ones that can't be programmed on site, there can be eight to ten weeks for them to be done and back in the machine," said Toporowski.
The Royal Canadian Mint produces about 30 million of each coin annually, and the government says the elimination of the nickel element will reduce nickel demand by about 539 metric tonnes a year -- just a tiny fraction of Canada's domestic output.
The current loonie is made from bronze-plated nickel, while the toonie has a ring of pure nickel around a copper alloy centre. The new coins will use the same multi-ply plated steel technology used in the penny, nickel, dime and quarter.
The change comes as nickel prices have fluctuated by as much as 1,000 per cent in recent years, according to the government, creating both supply and cost issues.
The new one-dollar and two-dollar coins have new, visible security features.
The tails side of both coins features a laser mark micro-engraving, and the two-dollar coin also contains a virtual image and edge-lettering.
The new coins will have the same diameter and thickness as the current coins and all previous versions of the coin remain legal tender and will continue to circulate as usual.