British Columbia

British Columbians are grappling with rising inflation. Here's how some are coping

With inflation showing no signs of slowing down, the CBC spoke with three B.C. residents about how rising costs are affecting them and what they're doing to deal with it.

Canada's inflation rate jumped to 6.7 per cent in March, marking a 31-year high

Cloverdale resident Mallory Muller is pictured here with her husband, Dave and her two sons Owen and Brody. Muller says the family's grocery bill has increased over the last few months. (Submitted by Mallory Muller)

Whether it's at the grocery store or the gas pump, the cost of living has gone up for many British Columbians.

One of the reasons B.C. residents are paying more right now is because of Canada's rising inflation rate. It jumped to 6.7 per cent in March, marking a 31-year high.

With inflation showing no signs of slowing down, the CBC spoke with three B.C. residents about how rising costs are affecting them and what they're doing to deal with it.

Grocery bills going up

Cloverdale resident Mallory Muller is the mother of two teenage sons with Type 1 diabetes and celiac disease. For her family, this has meant more meat, produce and dairy for a balanced diet, as well as having to purchase gluten free foods.

Muller says they have seen a sharp increase when it comes to the cost of food. Their average grocery bill used to be around $200 to $300 a week. But over the winter months, she says their bill went up an additional $100 a week. 

"I remember not long ago, I went to buy a cauliflower and it was $11."

Inflation, increasing expenses along the supply chain and even the weather are some factors behind rising food costs Canadians are seeing at the grocery store. (CBC)

She says they've had to make sacrifices, such as not chipping in to help her eldest son Owen buy a car so he can commute to school at the University of the Fraser Valley this fall. 

Muller says her family moved to B.C. from Alberta 10 years ago and has considered moving out of province if the cost of living continues to rise.

Small business owners taking a hit

As co-owner of the Brentwood Bay Village Empourium — a café, general store and event venue all in one space — John Carswell says he's experiencing rising inflation when it comes to running his business in Brentwood Bay on Vancouver Island.

Carswell says, like many other small businesses, they've been dealing with supply chain issues.

They use sunflower oil to make many of their baked goods, he says. But the cost of this type of oil, which is mostly imported from Russia and Ukraine, has doubled in the last few months. He says they've started to use more canola oil to keep the cost down.

Brentwood Bay Village Empourium co-owner John Carswell is pictured here at his store. Carswell says they've had to adapt their food menu several times because some supplies are too expensive. (Submitted by John Carswell)

He says they try to source ingredients locally as much as they can, but the price of those items have also gone up. 

As a result, he says they've had to continuously adapt their food menu, like temporarily halting the production of granola and gluten-free cookies. They've also had to increase some of their prices to keep the business going.

"The really troubling aspect to inflation, of course, is that the more we raise our prices in order to battle inflation, we're also contributing to inflation. So there's a great danger there for us."

Carswell says they're also relying on other aspects of the business, like the store and its capacity to hold events, to make extra revenue. 

Working multiple jobs to make ends meet 

Maple Ridge resident Dayna Ceaser says she works three jobs as a registered massage therapist, a housekeeper and a teaching assistant, and her husband Josh works as a Red Seal auto mechanic. She says she's noticing their paycheques don't go as far as they used to.

Apart from spending more money at the grocery store, Ceaser says she's feeling inflation at the gas pump, too.

In order to deal with the cost of commuting from Maple Ridge to Pitt Meadows for work, Ceaser says she rarely fills up a full tank of gas. 

Maple Ridge resident Dayna Ceaser is pictured here with her husband Josh. She says they've had to become more conscious about their spending habits with the rise of inflation. (Submitted by Dayna Ceaser)

"We've got a camping trip coming up that we now have to actually budget our gas purchases and how far each tank is going to get us," said Ceaser. "We've never had to do that before."

Ceaser says her dream is to be able to buy a house in her hometown of Maple Ridge, but with the cost of living rising, it doesn't seem like it will become a reality anytime soon.

"We'd love to stay here, but we're being pushed farther and farther out because we just can't afford it."

With files from Peter Evans


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