Final penny photo-op with Jim Flaherty cost $56,000

Jordan Chittley
Canada Politics

The federal government decided to get rid of the penny because it was costing 1.6 cents to make. But now we're learning that final penny cost $56,000 to make, some of it paid for by taxpayers.

That's because Finance Minister Jim Flaherty stamped it himself at the Royal Canadian Mint in Winnipeg and also held a press conference and photo op for the occasion on May 4.

Postmedia News obtained the documents about the event through access to information. Flaherty and his director of communications spent just over $6,000 on their trip to Winnipeg, but the majority of the event was paid for by the Mint.

The Mint spent $50,000, although spokesperson Christine Aquino said taxpayers didn't spend a penny on this because the Mint is a federal for-profit Crown Corporation and generates its own profits by producing coins. They make money literally and they also generate a profit by producing coins for more than a dozen countries and making collector coins.

[ Related: How the pennies' disappearance will change Canadian lives ]

"People are hoarding these pennies in their jars at home and now we're encouraging people to give the pennies to charities and that'll be good for the Canadian economy and our communities as well," Flaherty told CBC after the May 4 photo op. He said the penny has simply become a nuisance to people and businesses and doesn't expect consumers will lose out due to rounding.

[ Related Gallery: Canada's last penny ]

The government says killing the penny will save taxpayers $11 million a year. The final penny that Flaherty stamped isn't in circulation, but sits at the Currency Museum of the Bank of Canada in Ottawa.

(CP photo)