The Bank of Canada will issue a new series of bank notes beginning in January 2001 to further enhance the security of Canada's currency.

The new series of bank notes will contain sophisticated security features designed to thwart counterfeiters. Although counterfeiting of Canadian bank notes remains at low levels, last year it cost Canadians more than $4 million dollars.

The last Canadian note series was introduced 15 years ago. Significant technological advances in bank note production since then have made it possible for the Bank to incorporate better security features into paper currency. This comes at a time when affordable high-resolution colour copiers, inkjet printers, and computer scanners have increased the potential for counterfeiting.

"The new notes will incorporate state-of-the-art security features that will make Canadian bank notes even more secure than they are now. Each new series contains more sophisticated security features to protect Canadians from the risk of receiving counterfeit notes," said Bank of Canada Governor Gordon Thiessen. "Canadians should also know that they will be able to hold and use existing notes for as long as they want; the current notes will remain legal tender even after the new notes are introduced."

A major enhancement to the new series is the addition of a tactile feature that will greatly improve the ability of the blind and vision impaired to recognize different denominations.

"We are proud that Canada is one of the first countries in the world to add a durable tactile feature to its notes," said Vangelis Nikias of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. "When the Bank of Canada began the process of developing the new notes, there was a concerted effort to take into consideration the real needs of blind and vision-impaired Canadians."

The Bank has been consulting with Canadians across the country to ensure that the new designs reflect Canada's culture, history, and achievements. The results of that extensive national consultation have been reflected in the selection of subject matter that will be incorporated into the new note designs.

The subject matter approved by the Minister of Finance for the new notes will be announced in November.

The Bank has been working with financial institutions and equipment manufacturers to ensure that the introduction of the new notes will not require major changes to note-handling facilities and equipment.

Although the current images will change, the new notes will be the same size, and the existing dominant colours on each denomination will be maintained. In addition, the Queen and the Prime Ministers currently featured on the notes will remain on the same denominations but there will be new portraits.

With the introduction of the new bank notes, the Bank of Canada will also be intensifying its educational and awareness programs. These programs provide information on currency and counterfeit detection to cash handlers, law enforcement agencies and the general public.

"One of the most effective ways to reduce counterfeiting is to have a well-informed public, especially those individuals who work with cash," said Gilbert Marois, Assistant Director of Currency Education at the Bank of Canada.

The first redesigned note, the $10 denomination, will be put into circulation in January 2001. The new series will include a $5 note that will be issued later in 2001, and the remaining new notes ($20, $50, and $100) will be introduced over the next two to three years.

A $1000 note will not be issued. In May 2000, the Bank of Canada began the withdrawal of $1000 notes as part of the federal government's fight against money laundering and organized crime.