Budget says some paper currency will no longer be legal tender

Budget says some paper currency will no longer be legal tender

The Liberal government announced Tuesday — in an item buried deep in its 367-page 2018 budget document — that some paper currency will no longer be accepted as legal tender.

While the Bank of Canada stopped printing the $1,000 note in 2000, there are still about 700,000 of those bills still in circulation across the country.

As part of a plan to crack down on counterfeiting, money laundering and tax evasion, the government will no longer allow those bills to be used to pay for goods and services. The budget does not say when those bills will cease to be legal tender.

The $1,000 note has long been a favourite of organized crime because it makes transporting money easier. But it’s not the only bill headed for the dustbin of history. The $500, $25, $2 and $1 bills — none of which are currently being printed by the Bank of Canada and are rarely seen — also will no longer be usable.

“​In short, removing legal tender status means that some older bank notes would no longer have the official status of being approved for payments of debt. Essentially, that means you would no longer be able to spend that 1935 $25 bank note to buy items at a store,” the central bank explains on its website.

“Having the power to remove legal tender status from bank notes means that we can do a better job of keeping the notes in circulation current. Newer bank notes have better security features that make them difficult to counterfeit, and they are in better condition overall.”

$25 bill

A Canadian $25 note issued in 1935. (Bank of Canada)

While the budget didn’t say exactly when the legal tender status will be withdrawn — legislative amendments are coming — it sought to reassure Canadians that still hold these bills that the Bank of Canada will continue to honour them and exchange them at face value in the meantime.

A Canadian can still deposit those notes at their local bank or credit union branch, which would in turn send them on to the central bank to be destroyed.