Issue 18-57 Consumer Price Index (CPI)

March 23, 2018

British Columbia’s consumer price index (CPI) rose 2.8% (unadjusted) in February compared to the same month of the previous year. The year-over-year rate of inflation was up 0.7% from January.

According to Statistics Canada, the overall annual inflation rate increases to 2.9% when food is excluded from the index, but declines to 2.5% when energy is excluded.

The overall cost of food climbed 2.0% since February of last year. The cost of groceries purchased from stores went up (+1.5%), 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 (+11.1%), followed by meat (+2.2%) and fresh fruit (+1.3). Prices fell in February for non-alcoholic beverages (‑5.6%), coffee and tea (‑1.4%), and fish and other seafood (‑1.3%).

The cost of shelter went up in February (+3.5%), with prices for both renters (+1.4%) and home owners (+4.7%) rising. Within the shelter category, there was increases in the cost of fuel oil and other fuel (+10.8%), and electricity (+3.2%) in February, while piped gas (‑7.1%) decreased.

The transportation index rose 4.2% since February 2017, with the price of both private transportation (+3.6%) and public transportation (+8.0%) going up.

There was an increase in the price of gasoline (+12.5%) since the previous February, and travellers paid more for inter-city public transportation (+10.4%) compared to last year.

The overall cost of clothing and footwear rose slightly (0.1%) in February as an increase in the price of clothing (+0.7%) offset a decrease for footwear (‑2.5%).

Compared to a year ago, consumers paid more for alcoholic beverages and tobacco products (+3.6%), household operations and furnishing (+2.3), health and personal care (+2.2%), and recreation, education and reading (+1.2%). Within these categories, some items with significant price increases include reading material and other printed matter (+5.4%), cigarettes (+5.3%), and beer purchased from stores (+4.1%).

Consumer prices rose in both Vancouver (+3.3%) and Victoria (+2.1%) in February.

Canada’s CPI rose 2.2% (unadjusted) in February. The rate of inflation in B.C. (+2.8%) ranks third highest amongst the provinces, trailing Prince Edward Island (+3.0%) and Saskatchewan (+2.5%). The inflation rates for the other provinces ranged from a high of 2.7% in New Brunswick to a low of 1.5% in Quebec. 

Note:  Statistics Canada will release the March Consumer Price Index on April 20, 2018.