Issue 17-16: Consumer Price Index (CPI)

January 20, 2017

British Columbia’s consumer price index (CPI) climbed 1.9% (unadjusted) in December, compared to the same month of the previous year. This marks an increase in the year-over-year rate of inflation since November, when it was 1.6%.

According to Statistics Canada, the overall annual inflation rate of 1.9% went up to 2.6% when both food and energy were excluded from the index. The overall cost of food decreased (-0.9%) since December of last year. The cost of groceries purchased from stores went down (-2.6%), while the cost of meals purchased from restaurants increased (+2.5%) during the same time period. Within the food category, the largest drop in prices was observed for fresh vegetables (-9.3%), coffee and tea (-7.9%), and fresh fruit (-5.5%), while fish and other seafood (+9.7%) was the only major category to experience a rise in prices compared to December of 2015.

The cost of shelter (+2.2%) went up in December, with costs for both renters (+1.3%) and home owners (+2.6%) rising. Within the shelter category, the cost of fuel oil and other fuel oil (+12.4%) and electricity (+3.9%) increased, while the price of piped gas (-5.0%) fell since December 2015.

The transportation index (+2.8%) increased since December 2015, with the cost of both private transportation (+2.5%) and public transportation (+5.1%) going up. The cost of gasoline increased only slightly (+0.2%) since December 2015, while travellers payed significantly more for inter-city transportation (+6.7%) compared to a year ago.

The overall cost of clothing and footwear went up (+2.5%) in December, with the cost of women’s clothing (+3.1%) and footwear (+3.3%) experiencing the largest increases.

Compared to a year ago, consumers paid more for alcoholic beverages and tobacco products (+2.8%), recreation, education and reading (+2.7%), household operations and furnishings (+2.4%), and health and personal care (+1.9%). Within these categories, some items with significant increases include reading material and other printed matter (+14.1%), beer purchased from stores (+5.2%), and household furnishings (+3.9%).

Consumer prices rose in both Vancouver (+1.9%) and Victoria (+1.9%) by the same amount in December, identical to the rate of inflation for British Columbia as a whole.

Canada’s CPI rose 1.5% (unadjusted) in December. Provincial inflation rates ranged from a high of 4.1% in Newfoundland and Labrador, to a low of 0.6% in both Saskatchewan and Quebec. The rate of inflation in B.C. ranks fourth highest amongst the provinces.