Issue 17-112: Consumer Price Index

September 22, 2017

British Columbia’s consumer price index (CPI) rose 2.0% (unadjusted) in August compared to the same month of the previous year. This marks a small increase in the year-over-year rate of inflation since July, when it was 1.9 %.

According to Statistics Canada, the overall annual inflation rate of 2.0% climbs to 2.2% when food is excluded from the index, and declines to 1.7% when energy is excluded.

The overall cost of food climbed 0.9% since August of last year. The cost of groceries purchased from stores went up slightly (+0.3%), with the cost of meals purchased from restaurants also increasing (+2.1%) during the same time period. Within the food category, the highest rise in prices was for fresh fruit (+7.1%), fish and other seafood (+5.3%), and fresh vegetables (+3.1%). Prices fell in August for dairy products and eggs (‑1.9%) and bakery and other cereal products (‑1.5%).

The cost of shelter went up in August (+2.9%), with prices for both renters (+1.2%) and home owners (+3.3%) rising. Within the shelter category, the cost of piped gas (+9.1%), electricity (+3.4%), and fuel oil and other fuel (+2.8%) all increased since August 2016.

The transportation index  rose 3.2% since August 2016, with the price of both private transportation (+2.9%) and public transportation (+4.7%) going up. There was an increase in the price of gasoline (+10.9%) since August 2016, and travellers paid more for inter-city public transportation (+5.8%) compared to the previous year.

The overall cost of clothing and footwear went down slightly (‑0.2%) in August, with a decrease in the price of clothing (‑1.2%) offsetting an increase for footwear (+1.0%).

Compared to a year ago, consumers paid more for alcoholic beverages and tobacco products (+2.9%), health and personal care (+2.4%), recreation, education and reading (+2.1%), and household operations and furnishing (+0.3). Within these categories, some items with significant price increases include reading material and other printed matter (+7.1%), cigarettes (+4.5%), health care (+3.3%), and beer purchased from stores (+2.7%).

Consumer prices rose in both Vancouver (+2.4%) and Victoria (+1.8%) in August.

Canada’s CPI rose 1.4% (unadjusted) in August. The rate of inflation in B.C. (+2.0%) ranks the second highest amongst the provinces. The inflation rates for the other provinces ranged from a high of 2.3% in Prince Edward Island to a low of 0.9% in Manitoba.