Cost of living continues to rise as economy falters

Senior Linda Jennings is always keeping a close eye on her bottom line and she's noticed the price of just about everything seems to be continually creeping up.

Most vegetables, fruit consumed in Canada are imported and vulnerable to low Canadian dollar

Linda Jennings said she tries to counter rising costs by taking advantage of public transit and shops at second-hand stores. (CBC)

Senior Linda Jennings is always keeping a close eye on her bottom line and she's noticed the price of just about everything seems to be continually creeping up.

To counter the rising costs, she takes advantage of public transit with a senior's pass, and shops at several of the city's second-hand stores.  

"In general I live a very simple lifestyle and as far as looking for good prices, I probably shop in re-use stores more than a lot of people." 

When it comes to her grocery shopping though, she calls herself a regular at the Italian Centre in Little Italy, where she's noticed even the price of her vegetables has gone up.

"I find that this grocery store is really good for produce, but I noticed that prices are higher." 

With Alberta's economy going through trying times, Jennings may not be the only one looking for a bargain.

But paying more to eat, that's going to be a reality for all Albertans.  

According to the University of Guelph's Food Institute, the average Canadian household spent an additional $325 on food in 2015.

Food prices to continue to jump

On top of that, consumers can expect an additional annual increase of about $345 in 2016.

Since 81 per cent of all vegetables and fruit consumed in Canada is imported, they are highly vulnerable to currency fluctuations.

They are pegged to increase in price by at least four per cent in the new year.

The weak Canadian dollar coupled with a California drought means consumers are going to have to pay more for fruits and vegetables, said Italian Centre store manager Carmelo Verduci.

"Sometimes you try to absorb as much as you can, but then sometimes you have no choice like when milk or dairy goes up," he said.

"With the produce — with everything that's going on in California with the drought and stuff — unfortunately you've got to pass it on, but sometimes we work on lower margins to get by and then hope that things eventually swing back right."

While some things have increased in price, the store hasn't seen a decrease in shoppers, Verduci adds.

While the downturn in the economy hasn't had a huge impact on the grocery store, he said the coming months will be telling.

"I still think it's kind of early in that downturn. Right now we don't really know, but as you know, people still have to eat, so maybe they won't buy the more expensive (cooking) oil, but they're still going to have to buy oil, " he said.

Shopper Angela Skaley often shops at the Italian Centre in part to support local business.

he too is bracing for increased costs in the coming year.

"Right now with all the layoffs in the oilfields and the oil and gas industry ... a lot of places are giving people incentives in terms of living.  

"Apartments are giving people incentives to move there and stuff like that," she said.

From living expenses, to getting around the city, the cost is going up.

The city's transit department is getting ready for its first price increase in three years, though ony by five cents a ride and $2.50 for a monthly adult pass. 


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.