Business

Inflation in Canada ticks up to 1.5% despite cheaper groceries

The cost of living in Canada inched up last month as increases in gasoline and shelter prices offset slightly cheaper groceries.

Gasoline and shelter get more expensive, while food got cheaper for the first time since 2000

Food prices last month decreased on an annual basis for the first time in 16 years. (Sam Martin/CBC)

The cost of living in Canada inched up last month as increases in gasoline and shelter prices offset slightly cheaper groceries.

Statistics Canada reported Friday that the consumer price index rose to 1.5 per cent in October, up from 1.3 per cent in September.

Gasoline prices increased at a 2.5 per cent annual pace in October. The previous month, they had declined by 3.2 per cent over the previous year.

The cost of shelter also rose, with the index up by 1.9 per cent annually — its fastest pace since January 2015.

Food prices, meanwhile, posted their first decline since January 2000, down 0.7 per cent year over year in October after rising 0.1 per cent in September.

Prices for fresh fruit declined by 7.4 per cent, while meat prices dropped by 1.7 per cent, dairy products by 2.4 per cent and vegetables by 3.6 per cent.

"Some of this reflects the rebound in the Canadian dollar from the February low, some a price war among retailers," Doug Porter at Bank of Montreal said. But "you name it, they are all down sharply from a year ago," Porter said, referring to most major food groups.

But inflation was far from steady across the country. In four provinces — Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Manitoba and Saskatchewan — the inflation rate decreased in October from September's level. In four more — Newfoundland, P.E.I., Ontario, and B.C. — it increased, while in Quebec and Alberta it was flat.

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