Produce is shown in a grocery store in Toronto on Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. An annual report estimates the average Canadian family will pay about $400 more for groceries and roughly $150 more for dining out next year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Inflation rises 1.9% on higher prices for fresh vegetables, mortgage costs

Year-over-year gas prices dropped 4.4 per cent last month across the country

Canada’s annual inflation was up last month as price pressures strengthened for fresh vegetables, mortgage interest costs and auto insurance.

Statistics Canada said Wednesday that the country’s consumer price index increased 1.9 per cent in March, in line with economists’ expectations. It was higher than its readings of 1.5 per cent for February and 1.4 per cent in January, when inflation number was at a 15-month low point.

The agency’s core inflation readings, which are considered better measures of price pressures, rose two per cent in March — up from 1.9 per cent in February. They omit more-volatile items like gasoline and are closely watched by the Bank of Canada.

The firmer inflation picture brings both gauges closer to the central bank’s ideal two per cent target, and comes as the economy works through a soft patch brought on by the drop in crude-oil prices at the end of last year.

Compared with a year earlier, Statistics Canada said consumers paid 15.7 per cent more in March for fresh vegetables, 8.1 per cent more on mortgage borrowing costs and 5.6 per cent more for car insurance.

Year-over-year gas prices dropped 4.4 per cent last month, internet costs dropped 9.2 per cent and travel tours moved down 6.4 per cent.

Higher pump prices were a major driver of inflation last year before lower gas prices weighed on the measure in recent months.

In March, however, the downward pressure from cheaper gas eased off as global oil prices climbed, Statistics Canada said.

READ MORE: B.C. cities break North American gas price record

READ MORE: British Columbians are paying more for booze but also broccoli

Inflation accelerated in every province last month, with Alberta, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island registering the strongest price growth.

The economy abruptly decelerated in the final three months of 2018. Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz has predicted the weakness to be temporary and for the economy to strengthen in the second half of 2019.

The central bank, which has hiked its key interest rate five times since mid-2017, will make a policy announcement next Wednesday. It’s widely expected to leave the benchmark unchanged.

In a separate report Wednesday, the agency said Canada’s trade deficit was $2.9 billion in February — which contributed to the country’s biggest three-month shortfall on record.

The February number followed revised trade deficits of $3.1 billion in January and $4.8 billion in December.

Exports were down 1.3 per cent in February, while imports declined 1.6 per cent.

Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Boating Safety Week a chance to take stock of hazards on Shuswap Lake

Submerged logs, cold water and intoxicated captains are all safety concerns

$30,000 over 30 weeks for local causes

Send us your good stories and you could win money for your favourite cause

Columbia Shuswap Regional District office to begin phased reopening

Office will be open for four-hour days beginning next week

Flooding prompts closure of parks along Shuswap and Mara lakes

Boaters asked to respect No Wake policy protecting properties along water

Back in play: Columbia Shuswap Regional District reopening playgrounds

Signs with reminders about COVID-19 regulations will be posted

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Crews building structure at former Summerland train station site

West Summerland Station will pay tribute to railway history, serve as trail marker

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

Vernon protesters take Black Lives Matter movement to park

A handful of demonstrators raised fists, signs in solidarity Friday

Police watchdog investigating Lake Country incident

A man was taken to hospital after the June 3 incident

Community backlash over Black Lives Matter rally in Kelowna

Some members of Kelowna’s black community stated they don’t support Friday’s rally

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park at large

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

Most Read