Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Manitobans hit harder than most

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THE cost of living has been rising faster in Manitoba than in most other parts of the country, and one reason has been a spike in provincial taxes on some consumer products, new Statistics Canada figures show.

In its February Consumer Price Index report released Wednesday, the federal agency said Manitoba had one of the biggest month-over-month and year-over-year increases in living costs in the country last month.

It said the province's annual inflation rate jumped a full percentage point from January to February, climbing to 2.2 per cent. Not only was that the third-biggest provincial increase, it also left Manitoba with the second-highest annual inflation rate in the country after Newfoundland and Labrador's 2.3 per cent.

The Statistics Canada figures show some of the big contributors to the month-over-month increase were a 7.7 per cent jump in gasoline prices, a 6.2 per cent increase in the cost of women's clothing and a 3.5 per cent rise in the cost of dairy products.

Some major contributors to the increase in living costs compared with those in February 2012 were a 29.4 per cent spike in passenger-vehicle registration fees and a 14.1 per cent jump in homeowners' home and mortgage insurance premiums. The former was due to a $35 increase in vehicle-registration fees in last year's provincial budget. The latter was partly due to the Selinger government's budget decision to apply the provincial sales tax to some previously exempt products, including home and mortgage insurance.

-- Murray McNeill

"That would (cause) an immediate seven per cent jump (in property insurance premiums)," Peter Tessier, chair of the Insurance Brokers Association of Manitoba, said Wednesday.

Other contributing factors were rising house values and rising construction and building material costs, Tessier added.

-- Murray McNeill

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 28, 2013 B9

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