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Manitoba sees highest inflation rate in the country

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The cost of living in Manitoba increased at the fastest pace in the country between March of last year and March of this year, Statistics Canada said today.

The agency said Manitoba’s annual inflation rate in March was of 2.3 per cent. That was far and away the highest annual rate in the country, and more than double Canada’s rate of 1.0 per cent.

Higher prices at the gas pump were singled out as one of the biggest contributors to rising consumer prices here. Statistics Canada said they increased 4.9 per cent during the 12-month period.

Other notable contributors were passenger vehicle registration fees (up 29.4 per cent), and homeowners’ home and mortgage insurance (up 13.6 per cent).

Those two items were also significant contributors to February’s high annual inflation rate of 2.2 per cent for Manitoba. And the reason those items were costlier than a year before the Selinger government’s decision in last year’s provincial budget to boost vehicle registration fees by $35 and to extend the provincial sales tax to include a number of previously exempt items, including home and mortgage insurance.

In addition to having the highest annual inflation rate in March, Manitoba also had the dubious distinction of posting the biggest month-to-month increase in consumer prices, at 0.6 per cent. That was triple the national average increase.

While inflation is still an issue in Manitoba, analysts said Canadian consumers can expect to see only moderate, if any, price increases across the broad spectrum of goods and services in the foreseeable future.

Canada’s annual inflation rate fell to 1.0 per cent in March and the month-to-month rise was a tame 0.2 per cent. That follows a wild February which saw the annual rate climb 0.7 points and prices jump 1.2 per cent in one month.

But that was an aberration caused by a sharp rise in gasoline prices. Gas prices reversed course in March and have fallen further still so far into April, pointing to an even lower rate when the numbers come out next month.

"Canadian inflation is showing its true colours again — bland," said Bank of Montreal chief economist Doug Porter.

"Prices in almost all regions and almost all categories are currently running at well below a two per cent annual pace, and the near-term outlook is lower. We remain in a world where both growth and inflation are scrambling to stay above one per cent."

— Staff/Canadian Press

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