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Cost of living goes up in Manitoba

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WINNIPEG — Higher prices for things like women’s clothes, vehicles, and gasoline helped to push up the cost of living in Manitoba in April.

Statistics Canada said today that Manitoba’s annual inflation rate rose to 1.8 per cent in April from 1.4 per cent in March. That means the basket of goods and services StatsCan monitors monthly cost 1.8 per cent more to purchase in April than in April of last year.

Some of the biggest contributors to the rise in inflationary pressures were a 7.5 per cent jump in the cost of women’s clothes, a four per cent hike in homeowners’ replacement costs, a 3.6 per cent increase in the cost of buying or leasing a vehicle, and a 2.6 per cent rise in the price of gasoline.

Despite April’s increase, Manitoba still had the third lowest annual inflation rate in the country. Inflation was highest in Newfoundland at three per cent and lowest in Alberta, where the annual rate dipped to 0.8 per cent

Nationally, Canada’s inflation rate crept up one-tenth of a point to the Bank of Canada’s preferred level of two per cent last month as the cost of most consumer items rose moderately.

The big surprise in a generally flat report from Statistics Canada was that energy costs — once the prime mover to some sharp fluctuations in the consumer price index — have a become a non-factor in the overall annual inflation picture.

For the first time since October 2009, energy costs rose at a lower rate than the overall index with a tiny 1.1 per cent increase from last year.

Statistics Canada noted that gasoline had been rising in recent months, pushing April’s gasoline index to its highest level since July 2008, but that on a year-to-year basis, the increase was the smallest since September 2010. That’s because gasoline prices hit near record levels last April, it said.

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

— with files by The Canadian Press

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