The Bank of Canada today began circulating the new $100 bill – Canada’s first polymer bank note. This new note will be available at financial institutions from coast to coast to coast over the next few weeks.

The $100 note features a portrait of Sir Robert Borden, Prime Minister of Canada between 1911 and 1920, on the front and celebrates Canada’s contributions to innovation in the field of medicine on the back. It was officially released into circulation by Governor Mark Carney at an event in Toronto, Ontario, at the MaRS Centre – a hub for public-private sector innovation and collaboration between the business and scientific communities.

Governor Carney was joined at the event by Dr. Ilse Treurnicht, Chief Executive Officer of MaRS Discovery District.

Dr. Treurnicht discussed the importance of creating an environment that encourages and supports innovation in fields such as health care and life sciences. “Such an environment spurs the development of Canadian expertise and sets the stage for Canadian companies to lead the way,” she said. “These companies will, in turn, develop new ideas and technologies that return significant economic and social benefits, not only to Canadians but, through global partnerships, to the world.”

Remarking that the new polymer bank notes are themselves the product of Canadian ingenuity, combined with innovative technologies from around the globe, Governor Carney said the $100 note is an important step toward significantly increasing the security of Canada’s bank notes. “Just as the images on this note depict Canadian achievements at the frontier of medicine, the advanced security features embedded in these new polymer bills are at the frontier of bank note technology,” Governor Carney said. “This will protect Canadians against tomorrow’s counterfeiting threats. As well, these new notes will last at least two-and-a-half times longer than paper notes and will be recycled – saving money and being better for the environment.”

“Safer, cheaper and greener: these new bank notes are a 21st-century achievement in which all Canadians can take pride and place their confidence,” he concluded.

The new polymer bank notes, among the most advanced in the world, contain leading-edge security features that make them difficult to counterfeit but easy to verify; for example, a large transparent area extends from the top to the bottom of the note and contains complex holographic features that can be viewed from both sides.

Since unveiling the polymer bank note series in June 2011, the Bank of Canada has been working closely with financial institutions and the manufacturers of bank note equipment to support a smooth transition to the new notes. Through its regional offices across the country, the Bank has also been working with law enforcement and retailers to ensure that front-line police officers and cash handlers are familiar with the new security features and to encourage the regular authentication of bank notes.

The $50 note, which was also unveiled in June, will be issued in March 2012. The $20 note will begin circulating in late 2012, followed by the $10 and $5 notes by the end of 2013. Detailed images of the notes and information on their designs will be released on their official unveiling dates.