Canada has started phasing out its one-cent coins, described last year as a nuisance by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.

The Royal Canadian Mint has officially ended its distribution of the coins to financial institutions.

While people may still use the coins, the government has issued guidelines urging store owners to start rounding prices to the nearest five cents for cash transactions.

Electronic purchases will still be billed to the nearest cent.

The government has said the cost of the cent exceeds its monetary value with  production at $11m a year.

The coins, which feature two maple leaves and Queen Elizabeth II in profile, will remain legal tender until they eventually disappear from circulation.

Opposition New Democrat Member of Parliament Pat Martin gave a poetic goodbye to the coin in Parliament yesterday.

"There's nothing a penny will buy any more, not a gum ball or small piece of candy," Mr Martin said.

"Note the penny is a nuisance. It costs too much to make. They clutter our change purse and they don't circulate. They build up in piles in old cookie jars under our beds and in our desk drawers. You can't give them away.

"They cost more than what they're worth. It's time to put them all out to pasture, put them out to the curb. No, the penny is useless, but there is one thing I'd say, I hope they don't start treating old MPs this way."

Google is marking the passing of the cent with a dedicated doodle on its Canadian home page.

The currency museum at Canada's central bank has already taken steps to preserve its place in Canadian culture.

A mural consisting of nearly 16,000 one-cent pieces has been assembled at the museum to commemorate the coin's history, said assistant curator Raewyn Passmore.

New Zealand, Australia, the Netherlands, Norway, Finland, Sweden and others have also dropped the smallest denomination.

The US Treasury Department has said the Obama administration has looked at possibly using cheaper materials to make the cent, which is now made of zinc.

Two bills calling for the end of the US one cent coin, introduced in 2002 and 2006 by Republican Rep Jim Kolbe, failed to advance in the House of Representatives.

The US zinc lobby has been a major opponent to suggestions that the penny be eliminated.