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'It's discrimination,' says resident of businesses not accepting cash

'Budget-conscious people' and those without bank accounts need the option of paying with cash, says Lynn Rae, who is urging stores, MP, Newmarket council to back her request
Newmarket resident Lynn Rae wants to see new laws to guarantee businesses accept cash.

Newmarket resident Lynn Rae has long believed that paying with cash is the best way to manage a budget.

Rae said avoiding the use of credit or debit cards helps her avoid impulse purchases. The author, who has written a book about budgeting, believes in sticking to cash for most of her daily life.

So hearing about another Newmarket business not accepting cash has motivated her once again to seek legal change. Rae has written to her MP and plans to approach the town about laws barring stores from not taking cash.

“It’s discrimination. Businesses are discriminating against budget-conscious people like myself that prefer to pay cash,” she said. “They’re discriminating against underprivileged people that may not have bank accounts even.

“Cash is the currency we use in Canada, and I believe that it should be accepted everywhere.”

Rae has fought for the issue for several years, advocating for laws that force cash acceptance up to a certain dollar amount. It became a sticking point amidst the pandemic, with cash transactions garnering more concern for the spread of COVID-19 and the Bank of Canada issuing a statement in 2020 asking businesses to keep accepting cash.

But hearing from a nurse that the Tim Hortons at Southlake Regional Health Centre will not accept cash payment has prompted Rae to raise the issue again. 

“I just couldn’t believe it,” she said. “It’s less than $2 for a coffee.”

A manager for the Southlake Tim Hortons declined to comment when contacted by NewmarketToday. 

Multiple jurisdictions in the U.S. have barred stores from not accepting cash, including at the state and city levels. Although Rae said she recognizes Canada's money to fall under federal jurisdiction, she hopes that other jurisdictions, including Newmarket, could implement laws at their level.

Although she is only aware of two places in Newmarket for certain that do not accept cash ― having also had the issue at an eating establishment in Upper Canada Mall — she remains concerned.

“Other businesses are going to follow suit,” she said, adding that she wants people “to think twice about what they’re spending money on.”

There are some locales that have gone to cashless. Canada's Wonderland in Vaughan is now cashless throughout the amusement park, though has cash-for-card kiosks that allow patrons to convert their cash to a pre-paid debit card for use in the park or elsewhere.

"By going cashless, we are able to conduct contact-less transactions, and it’s faster, safer and always secure," the park said on its website. 

Newmarket has previously indicated the issue is outside its jurisdiction, but Rae hopes to change minds with a council deputation. She also hopes a letter to the Southlake Tim Hortons could make a change there. 

She added that she would like other people to get on board with her cause. 

“I want people to know how they’re spending their money,” she said, adding that with cashless transactions, “the only people getting rich are the banks.”