Rising fruit, vegetable costs push inflation rate up

OTTAWA -- Fuelled by climbing prices for fresh fruits and vegetables, Canada's annual inflation rate accelerated last month to 1.6 per cent, Statistics Canada said Friday.

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The December inflation reading in the agency's latest consumer price index followed a 1.4 per cent year-over-year increase in November.

The country's inflation rate was released as the economy deals with the effects of the steep slide in commodity and oil prices, which have also dragged down Canada's exchange rate.

On top of higher produce prices, Canadians were also paying considerably more for home and mortgage insurance, automobiles and electricity compared to a year earlier, the report said.

Prices for fresh fruit were up 13.2 per cent compared to a year earlier, while fresh vegetables rose 13.3 per cent. The price of lettuce, for example, surged by 21.8 per cent.

Overall, consumers spent 3.7 per cent more on food last month than the previous year.

The agency said lower prices for gasoline, natural gas and fuel oil applied downward pressure on inflation. Gasoline prices were down 4.8 per cent compared to December 2014, while natural gas decreased 12.9 per cent and fuel oil dropped by 16.8 per cent.

The report said consumer prices increased in every province last month compared to the year before, with British Columbia seeing the largest gain.

The core inflation rate, which excludes some volatile items such as gasoline, was up 1.9 per cent last month, slipping below the two per cent mark for the first time since July 2014. The core rate is followed closely by the Bank of Canada.

Statistics Canada also released its year-end review for 2015, which showed the country's annual average increase in inflation was 1.1 per cent.

Core inflation had an annual average increase of 2.2 per cent last year, reaching its highest level in a year-end review since 2003.

Statistics Canada also released data Friday for retail sales in November. They were up 1.7 per cent compared to the previous month as Black Friday promotions and a boost in sales at new car dealerships helped push the total figure up to $44.3 billion.

By province/territory

  • Newfoundland and Labrador: 1.4 per cent (1.1)
  • Prince Edward Island: 0.9 (0.2)
  • Nova Scotia: 1.2 (0.5)
  • New Brunswick: 1.1 (0.7)
  • Quebec: 1.3 (0.9)
  • Ontario: 1.7 (1.3)
  • Manitoba: 1.5 (1.8)
  • Saskatchewan: 1.8 (2.1)
  • Alberta: 1.5 (2.0)
  • British Columbia: 1.9 (1.7)
  • Whitehorse, Yukon: 0.8 (0.1)
  • Yellowknife, N.W.T.: 1.5 (1.6)

By city

  • St. John's, N.L.: 1.4 per cent (1.0)
  • Charlottetown-Summerside: 0.9 (0.4)
  • Halifax: 1.2 (0.5)
  • Saint John, N.B.: 1.2 (0.7)
  • Quebec: 1.2 (0.8)
  • Montreal: 1.5 (1.1)
  • Ottawa: 1.3 (1.0)
  • Toronto: 2.0 (1.7)
  • Thunder Bay, Ont.: 1.8 (1.4)
  • Winnipeg: 1.5 (1.8)
  • Regina: 1.6 (1.9)
  • Saskatoon: 1.9 (2.2)
  • Edmonton: 1.6 (2.0)
  • Calgary: 1.5 (2.0)
  • Vancouver: 2.3 (1.8)
  • Victoria: 1.7 (1.4)


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