Know your Canadian currency

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Do you know your loonies from your toonies? Being able to distinguish the coins and bills of Canada is among the first skills newcomers must acquire, as money is used in basic transactions, everyday. Although you will probably use your debit cards or credit cards more, knowing which Canadian coins and bills to use is basic knowledge you can’t do without.

Canadian coins

Did you know that all Canadian coins are made in Manitoba? The Royal Canadian Mint produces over 1 billion circulation coins every year at their high-tech plant in Winnipeg. Aside from this, it also mints coins for central banks, monetary authorities and other mints all over the world.

Canadian coins

From left: Toonie $2, Loonie $1, Quarter 25¢, Dime 10¢, Nickel 5¢, Penny 1¢

Examining the coins, you will notice that inscribed on one face is the monarch’s effigy, which is a permanent fixture. On the reverse side are designs, usually featuring Canadian wildlife. The reverse side has changed through the years, reflecting the shifts in Canada’s diverse culture (to know more about the history of Canada’s coins, read about it at the Royal Canadian Mint’s website). The one dollar is known as a “loonie”, because of the image of the common loon on one side. And because of this, the two dollar coin became known as a “toonie” (as it is equivalent to two loonies). Other coins in current circulation include the 5¢ (nickel), 10¢ (dime), 25 ¢ (quarter), 50¢ (50¢ piece – limited circulation), and the 1¢ (penny) which ceased to be distributed in 2013. The penny is being phased out but is still considered legal tender.

Canadian bills

Canada has five bills or banknotes that are produced by the Bank of Canada. The denominations are five (blue), ten (purple), 20 (green), 50 (red) and 100 (brown) dollars. In November 2018, a new $10 bill was launched into circulation featuring Viola Desmond. You can see the new bill here.

Images shown with permission from the Bank of Canada

Canada’s newest batch of bank notes are made out of polymer, a material that is much more durable than cotton paper. This change benefits the environment, as the bills last longer and can even be recycled. The new polymer notes are hard to counterfeit as well since “the detailed metallic imagery carried in the transparent area of the notes makes for a one-of-a-kind currency” (Bank of Canada, benefits of polymer). This innovative spirit is carried out in the bills’ design, which features the country’s achievements at home, around the world and in space.

Canadian money is generally called Canadian Dollars (symbol: CAD). You will usually see it abbreviated as CAD, C$ (to distinguish it from other dollar-denominated currencies) or CDN. But however it is abbreviated, the Canadian Dollar is considered to be one of the most traded and accepted currencies in the world owing to the stable economy of the country.

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Community Resources

Know more about Canada’s monetary policy at the Bank of Canada site.

The Government of Manitoba has a Financial Literacy Resource page for new immigrants that has links to consumer education information.

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Quiz

Know your Canadian currency

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