Issue 17-38: Consumer Price Index (CPI)

February 24, 2017

British Columbia’s consumer price index (CPI) climbed 2.3% (unadjusted) in January, compared to the same month of the previous year. This marks an increase in the year-over-year rate of inflation since December, when it was 1.9%.

According to Statistics Canada, the overall annual inflation rate of 2.3% went up to 3.3% when food is excluded from the index, and declines to 1.8% when energy is excluded.

The overall cost of food decreased (-2.4%) since January of last year. The cost of groceries purchased from stores went down (-4.7%), while the cost of meals purchased from restaurants increased (+2.6%) during the same time period. Within the food category, the largest drop in prices was observed for fresh vegetables (-17.3%), fresh fruit (-7.2%), and coffee & tea (-4.9%). Fish and other seafood (+3.7%) was the one major category to experience a rise in prices compared to January of 2016.

The cost of shelter (+2.4%) went up in January, with costs for both renters (+1.2%) and home owners (+2.6%) rising. Within the shelter category, the cost of fuel oil and other fuel (+25.3%), electricity (+3.9%), and property taxes (+3.0%) all increased since January 2016.

The transportation index (+5.9%) increased since January 2016, with the cost of both private transportation (+6.3%) and public transportation (+3.5%) going up. There was a large increase in the cost of gasoline (+18.0%) since January 2016, contributing to an increase in the overall cost of operating a motor vehicle (+8.7%). Travellers payed more for inter-city transportation (+4.5%) compared to a year ago.

The overall cost of clothing and footwear went up slightly (+0.8%) in January, with an increase in the cost of clothing (+2.0%) mostly offset by a decline in the cost of footwear (-1.6%).

Compared to a year ago, consumers paid more for recreation, education and reading (+4.1%), health and personal care (+2.4%), alcoholic beverages and tobacco products (+2.2%), and household operations and furnishings (+2.1%). Within these categories, some items with significant increases include reading material and other printed matter (+15.0%) and recreation (+4.5%).

Consumer prices rose in both Vancouver (+2.1%) and Victoria (+2.3%) in January.

Canada’s CPI rose 2.1% (unadjusted) in January. Provincial inflation rates ranged from a high of 4.7% in Newfoundland and Labrador to a low of 1.3% in Quebec. The rate of inflation in B.C. ranks fifth highest amongst the provinces, tied with Ontario.

Note: Statistics Canada will release the February Consumer Price Index on March 24, 2017.

Source: Statistics Canada