Issue 18-72 Consumer Price Index (CPI)

April 20, 2018

British Columbia’s consumer price index (CPI) rose 2.6% (unadjusted) in March compared to the same month of the previous year. The rate of inflation was up 0.3% from February 2018.

According to Statistics Canada, the overall annual inflation rate increases to 2.8% when food is excluded from the index, but declines to 2.3% when energy is excluded.

The overall cost of food climbed 1.5% since March of last year. The cost of groceries purchased from stores went up (+0.7%), with the cost of meals purchased from restaurants also increasing (+3.0%) during the same time period. Within the food category, the highest rise in prices was for fresh vegetables (+5.4%), followed by fresh fruit (+4.0) and meat (+1.0%). Prices fell in March for non-alcoholic beverages ( 0.8%), coffee and tea ( 6.3%), bakery and other cereal products ( 0.7%), and fish and other seafood ( 0.1%).

The cost of shelter went up in March (+3.5%), with prices for both renters (+1.6%) and home owners (+4.6%) rising. Within the shelter category, there were increases in the cost of fuel oil and other fuel (+14.8%), and electricity (+3.2%) in March, while piped gas ( 7.1%) decreased.

The transportation index rose 4.4% since March 2017, with the price of both private transportation (+3.4%) and public transportation (+10.9%) going up. There was an increase in the price of gasoline (+12.6%) since the previous March, and travellers paid more for inter-city public transportation (+14.3%) compared to last year.

The overall cost of clothing and footwear fell (-0.7%) in March compared to March 2017, with decreases in both the price of clothing ( 0.3%) and footwear ( 3.4%).

Compared to a year ago, consumers paid more for alcoholic beverages and tobacco products (+4.1%), household operations and furnishing (+2.1%), health and personal care (+2.2%), and recreation, education and reading (+0.5%). Within these categories, some items with significant price increases include cigarettes (+8.3%), reading material and other printed matter (+3.3%), and health care (+3.3%).

Consumer prices rose in both Vancouver (+3.2%) and Victoria (+1.9%) in March compared to the same month last year.

Canada’s CPI rose 2.3% (unadjusted) in March. The rate of inflation in B.C. (+2.8%) ranks second highest amongst the provinces, trailing Saskatchewan (+2.9%). The inflation rates for the other provinces ranged from a high of 2.9% in Saskatchewan to a low of 1.6% in Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Find more Consumer Price Index information

Note: Statistics Canada will release the March Consumer Price Index on May 18, 2018.