Issue 18-21 Consumer Price Index (CPI)

January 26, 2018

British Columbia’s consumer price index (CPI) rose 2.0% (unadjusted) in December compared to the same month of the previous year. The year-over-year rate of inflation was down 0.6% from November.

According to Statistics Canada, the overall annual inflation rate of 2.0% increases to 2.1% when food is excluded from the index, and declines to 1.7% when energy is excluded.

The overall cost of food climbed 1.9% since December of last year. The cost of groceries purchased from stores went up (+1.4%), with the cost of meals purchased from restaurants also increasing (+2.8%) during the same time period. Within the food category, the highest rise in prices was for fresh vegetables (+6.7%), followed by coffee and tea (+2.1%) and bakery and other cereal products (+1.9). Prices fell in December for non-alcoholic beverages (‑1.0%) and fish and other seafood (‑0.2%).

The cost of shelter went up in December (+3.1%), with prices for both renters (+1.2%) and home owners (+3.9%) rising. Within the shelter category, there was a large increase in the cost of fuel oil and other fuel (+10.6%), while electricity (+3.4%) also increased over December 2016. Piped gas (‑0.4%) decreased.

The transportation index rose 4.6% since December 2016, with the price of both private transportation (+4.2%) and public transportation (+7.7%) going up. There was a jump in the price of gasoline (+12.0%) since the previous December, and travellers paid more for inter-city public transportation (+9.8%) compared to last year.

The overall cost of clothing and footwear fell (‑1.2%) in December as the price of footwear (‑2.3%) and clothing (‑1.4%) both saw decreases.

Compared to a year ago, consumers paid more for alcoholic beverages and tobacco products (+2.8%), health and personal care (+1.2%), and recreation, education and reading (+0.5%), while the cost of household operations and furnishing (‑1.2) decreased. Within these categories, some items with significant price increases include reading material and other printed matter (+5.7%), cigarettes (+3.6%), and beer purchased from stores (+2.7%).

Consumer prices rose in both Vancouver (+2.5%) and Victoria (+1.3%) in December.

Canada’s CPI rose 1.9% (unadjusted) in December. The rate of inflation in B.C. (+2.0%) ranks tied for fourth highest amongst the provinces, trailing Saskatchewan (+3.4%), Manitoba (+2.9%), and New Brunswick (+2.9%). The inflation rates for the other provinces ranged from a high of 2.0% in Alberta and Prince Edward Island to a low of 1.5% in Ontario.