Asking for Change >> Advent Policy Brief #13

This post comes from a problem I faced during initial COVID lockdowns; I couldn't get change to do my laundry. Stores stopped dealing in cash, and banks were closed or only available by appointment. My thirteenth Advent Policy Brief insists that Canadians have a right to exchange their bills and coins; accordingly, the federal government has a duty to enact that right. By my figuring, Canada Post is the best federal agency to make this service a reality. 

Needing change is a renter's problem. In-suite laundry is an amenity out of reach for most renters. Laundry is a recurring problem, and needing specific change for laundry requires a whole strategy. It's usually been loonies and quarters that I've had to seek out. When I was getting tips, I'd take part of my tip-out in change. Otherwise, I bank with a branch-less bank, so I make a slew of strategic cash purchases to collect the right coins. 

To avoid human interaction - I hate asking cashiers for specific change - I've taken my game to the Dollarama self-checkouts, where it's not weird if I buy a single item or break up my order arbitrarily. The most strategic purchase is a ramen noodle package for 33 cents (untaxed); I can get back a loonie and 2 quarters from a toonie. 

Seriously though, I shouldn't have to make a meaningless purchase to do laundry. I love a crafty ramen as much as the next bloke, but there are 5 packs in my cupboard I'm uninspired to eat. Domestic currency exchange should be a service broadly available in Canada. 

Canada Post is ideally situated to provide domestic currency exchange. Canada Post has a national network of branches and already operates some banking features through Canada Post Pre-Paid Visa accounts. Beyond present capacity, proposals for Canada Post to expand to provide full personal banking services make perennial rounds in labour circles. 

I hope Canada Post does take up a banking mandate, but before that gets figured out, they can be helping meet the domestic currency exchange needs of renters.

Small pile of Canadian coins