Issue 16-217: Consumer Price Index (CPI)

November 18, 2016

British Columbia’s consumer price index (CPI) climbed 2.1% (unadjusted) in October, compared to the same month of the previous year. This marks an increase in the year-over-year rate of inflation since September, when it was 1.8%.

According to Statistics Canada, the overall annual inflation rate of 2.1% went down to 1.9% when energy is excluded from the index, and increases to 2.6% when food is excluded instead.

The overall cost of food decreased slightly (-0.8%) since October of last year. The cost of groceries purchased from stores decreased (-2.6%), while the cost of meals purchased from restaurants increased (+2.9%) during the same time period. Within the food category, the largest drop in prices were observed for fresh vegetables (-7.3%), fresh fruit (-6.0%), and meat (-3.7%), while fish and other seafood (+8.1%) was the only group to experience a rise in prices compared to October of last year.

The cost of shelter (+2.1%) went up in October, with costs for both renters (+1.1%) and home owners (+2.7%) rising. Within the shelter category, the cost of both electricity (+3.9%) and fuel oil and other fuel (+2.0%) increased, while the price of piped gas (‑5.0%) fell since October 2015.

The transportation index (+4.5%) increased since October of last year, with the cost of both private transportation (+4.7%) and public transportation (+3.0%) going up. Within the private transportation category, the cost of operating a motor vehicle rose (+5.2%), which includes a large increase in gasoline prices (+7.2%). This marks the second month in a row in which the cost of gasoline increased on a year-over-year basis after months of price declines.

The overall cost of clothing and footwear decreased (-0.8%) in October, with the cost of both clothing (-1.2%) and footwear (-1.8%) going down.

Compared to a year ago, consumers paid more for alcoholic beverages and tobacco products (+3.5%), recreation, education and reading (+3.1%), health and personal care (+2.4%), and household operations and furnishings (+2.3%). Within these categories, some items with significant increases include reading material and printed matter (+10.7%) and alcoholic beverages purchased from stores (+5.3%).

Consumer prices rose in Vancouver (+2.5%) in October, above the rate of inflation for British Columbia as a whole, while in Victoria the increase in prices (+1.9%) was slightly lower than B.C. as a whole.

Canada’s CPI rose 1.5% (unadjusted) in October. Provincial inflation rates ranged from a high of 4.0% in Newfoundland and Labrador, to a low of 0.5% in Alberta. The rate of inflation in B.C. ranks joint-third highest amongst the provinces (tied with Ontario).