Canadians got their first look at the slick new plastic bills that will soon line wallets across the country.

The Bank of Canada unveiled two bills in its new series of polymer-blend bank notes at an Ottawa news conference on Monday afternoon. The $100 and $50 bills are slated to begin circulating in November 2011 and March 2012 respectively.

The new bills, which are smoother to the touch and harder to crumple, are made from a durable type of polymer and will eventually replace the cotton-paper blend used in existing currency.

While the plastic bills will cost nearly twice as much to produce compared to those currently in circulation (19 cents per bill versus 10 cents for the old version), the new plastic currency is said to be 2.5 times more durable.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty joined Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney to introduce the new bills, describing them as "cultural touchstones that reflect and celebrate our Canadian experience."

The Conservative government pledged in the 2010 budget to move the country to synthetic bills.


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