Issue 17-62: Consumer Price Index (CPI)

March 24, 2017

British Columbia’s consumer price index (CPI) climbed 2.3% (unadjusted) in February compared to the same month of the previous year, which is the same year-over-year rate of inflation measured in January.

According to Statistics Canada, the overall annual inflation rate of 2.3% increases to 2.9% when food is excluded from the index, and declines to 1.8% when energy is excluded.

The overall cost of food decreased (-0.9%) since February of last year. The cost of groceries purchased from stores went down (-2.7%), while the cost of meals purchased from restaurants increased (+2.7%) during the same time period.  Within the food category, the largest drop in prices was observed for fresh vegetables (-8.8%), fresh fruit (-3.6%), and bakery and other cereal products (-3.4%).  Fish and other seafood (+7.1%) was one major food category to experience a rise in prices compared to February of 2016.

The price of shelter (+2.3%) went up in February, with costs for both renters (+1.3%) and home owners (+2.3%) rising.  Within the shelter category, the cost of fuel oil and other fuel (+25.7%), electricity (+3.9%), and property taxes (+3.0%) all increased since February 2016.

The transportation index (+6.1%) rose since February 2016, with the cost of both private transportation (+6.5%) and public transportation (+3.8%) going up.  There was a large increase in the price of gasoline (+19.7%) since February 2016, contributing to an increase in the overall cost of operating a motor vehicle (+9.2%).  Travellers paid more for inter-city public transportation (+5.1%) compared to a year ago.
The overall cost of clothing and footwear went up slightly (+0.3%) in February, with the price of clothing unchanged (+0.1%) and the price of footwear going down slightly (-0.3%).

Compared to a year ago, consumers paid more for recreation, education and reading (+4.0%), alcoholic beverages and tobacco products (+2.6%), household operations and furnishings (+1.1%), and health and personal care (+1.0%).  Within these categories, some items with significant increases include reading material and other printed matter (+15.0%) and recreation (+4.1%).

Consumer prices rose in both Vancouver (+2.2%) and Victoria (+2.4%) in February.

Canada’s CPI rose 2.0% (unadjusted) in February.  Provincial inflation rates ranged from a high of 4.2% in Newfoundland and Labrador to a low of 1.2% in Quebec.  The rate of inflation in B.C. ranks third highest amongst the provinces, tied with both Ontario and Manitoba.

Note:  Statistics Canada will release the March Consumer Price Index on April 21, 2017.

Data source: Statistics Canada