Manitoba’s annual inflation rate remains stubbornly high compared to most other provinces, although relatively tame by historical standards.
Statistics Canada’s latest monthly consumer price index report, which was released today, pegs Manitoba’s annual inflation rate at 1.8 per cent in April.
That left it tied with Prince Edward Island for the highest annual rate in the country. It was also more than four times higher than Canada’s annual inflation rate for April of 0.4 per cent. The remaining provinces had rates ranging from minus 0.8 per cent in British Columbia to 1.3 per cent in Alberta.
The good news was that April’s rate was still an improvement from March, when Manitoba had by far the highest annual rate in the country at 2.3 per cent.
As has been the case for several months, some of the consumer items that have seen some of the biggest increases in cost over the past 12 months are passenger vehicle registration fees (up 29.4 per cent) and homeowners’ home and mortgage insurance (up 13.5 per cent).
Two other notable examples in April were cigarettes (up 8.4 per cent) and telephone services (up 8.3 per cent).
Vehicle registration fees and homeowners’ home and mortgage insurance are costlier this year because of the Selinger government’s decision in last year’s provincial budget to boost vehicle registration fees by $35 and extend the provincial sales tax to include a number of previously exempt items, including home and mortgage insurance.
This year’s budget, unveiled last month, also included a hike in provincial cigarette taxes.
A steep decline in the price of gasoline last month pushed Canada’s inflation rate down to its lowest level since October 2009. It was a bigger drop than analysts had expected.
Gasoline prices at the pump in April were down six per cent from a year earlier, also the largest year-to-year decline since October 2009.
On a month-to-month basis, consumer prices also fell by a bigger than expected 0.4 per cent. Analysts had been looking for a decline of 0.2 per cent month-to-month, according to a consensus estimate.
The steep drop-off in inflation will likely bring to a halt any talk about the Bank of Canada needing to start raising interest rates, given that inflation is far from the bank’s ideal of two per cent annual inflation and below low end of its target range.
Two provinces — British Columbia and New Brunswick — fell into negative inflation territory, registering overall price decreases of 0.8 per cent and 0.2 per cent respectively.
Even the central bank’s core inflation index, which excludes volatile items such as gasoline, is getting closer to falling out of the desired range of one-to-three per cent, after dropping to 1.1 per cent in April from 1.3 per cent the previous month.
Analysts had expected the core rate to be 1.2 per cent.
— Staff/Canadian Press