Banknote celebrating Canada 150 cost taxpayers $16.9 million


It costs money to make money 
(true since 1867)

The Bank of Canada will celebrate Canada’s 150th year of confederation by releasing the fourth commemorative banknote in Canada’s history on June 1. The Bank hopes to release 40 million notes so that one will reach each Canadian before the first of July.

Since 2011, banknotes have been printed on a synthetic polymer rather than cotton fibre in order to prevent counterfeit fraud through increased security features; the production cost of regular polymer banknotes is 23 cents per unit.

The Ontarion spoke to Nish Vairavanathan, an analyst from the Bank of Canada’s external stakeholder management team, about the cost of producing the new banknote.

Vairavanathan explained that the unit cost for the commemorative bill is 28 cents, which is five cents more than a regular polymer note.

The commemorative $10 banknote will cost approximately $11.2 million to print, which doesn’t include development costs.

“The development costs related to research and consultation, bank note design, pre-production testing, and communications of the commemorative $10 note is about $5.7 million,” said Vairavanathan.

Therefore, the actual cost of the commemorative note to Canadian taxpayers is in the realm of $16.9 million.

Vairavanathan explained that the banknote is celebratory, but the cost also serves another purpose.

“The commemorative note, though it has a higher unit cost than our polymer series, is informing the Bank’s regular work on bank note development and design. We used it as an opportunity to try new and enhanced security features (such as colour-shifting arch, three-dimensional maple leaves, and use of raised ink on both sides of the note),” said Vairavanathan.

“The inclusion of these new and enhanced features will provide important learning experiences from a research and design perspective—costs normally incurred as part of the development of future bank notes,” Vairavanathan added.

According to the Bank of Canada, they have packed the commemorative $10 banknote with Canadian history based on feedback from Canadians.

The banknote strives to represent the past, present, and future of the nation in an inclusive manner alongside its natural landmarks.   

One side of the note celebrates historical figures and symbols of parliament while the other side represents the vast Canadian Landscape.

In addition to the sesquicentennial commemorative note, the Bank of Canada will be releasing the first banknote in regular circulation depicting a Canadian woman: Viola Desmond, a Black Nova Scotian businesswoman known for refusing to leave a whites-only area at a theatre in 1946.

Desmond will replace Sir John A. MacDonald on the $10 banknote.

There have been only four commemorative banknotes in Canada’s history:

1935
$25 commemorative note in honour of the Silver Jubilee of King George V

1967
$1 commemorative note in honour of the 100th anniversary of Confederation

2015
$20 commemorative note in honour of Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning sovereign in Canada’s modern era

2017
$10 commemorative note in honour of the 150th anniversary of Confederation

Photo by Mirali Almaula/The Ontarion.