There are still six-billion of them in circulation so they won't disappear overnight. The Canadian mint estimates it will take about 3-4 years for pennies to leave Canadian circulation.
Did you know it costs roughly 1.6 cents to produce a penny? Neither did we. The Canadian Government will save about $11million/year discontinuing the penny. Not much in the big scheme of a government that lavishes spending on multi-billion priorities like 'national defence'.
Only about 20% of Canadian retail purchases are made in cash. The loss of the penny will have no impact on debit or credit-card purchases, which will will remain cent-specific.
Canadian retailers now have the option to 'round up or down' their final cash prices, and the Federal Government hasn't formally legislated how rounding will occur. Ottawa has provided 'suggestions' as to how to round a final bill, including "For totals ending in one, two, six or seven will be rounded down, while totals ending in three, four, eight and nine will be rounded up".
Penny production stopped in May 2012, but the Canadian Mint continued its distribution until today.
Similar countries no longer use pennies. Australia got rid of their penny in 1992, for example.
Consider rolling-up and donating your pennies to charity. Retail Insider's two favourite charities are:
1) Covenant House (Toronto and Vancouver). Helping homeless street youth build better lives for themselves while benefiting the community.
2) Access Pro Bono Society of BC - Providing free legal services to lower-income British Columbians.
[Article Sources: 1 and 2]