Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Manitoba's inflation highest

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Manitoba had the highest average annual provincial inflation rate in the country in 2013, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

New Statistics Canada figures released Friday pegged Manitoba's annual average rate at 2.2 per cent. While that was more than double Canada's rate of 0.9 per cent, it also only two notches above the Bank of Canada's ideal target for Canada of 2.0 per cent, and well within its desired range of one to three per cent.

Manitoba's 2013 rate was up more than a half a percentage point from the previous year, when it was 1.6 per cent. Canada's average rate in 2012 was 1.5 per cent.

Among the rest of the provinces, Newfoundland and Labrador had the second highest annual rate in 2013, at 1.7 per cent. At the other end of the spectrum, British Columbia's rate was minus 0.1 per cent.

On Friday, Statistics Canada also released the consumer price index numbers for the December 2012 to December 2013 period. They showed Manitoba had an annual inflation rate in December of 2.1 per cent, down from 2.4 per cent in November.

Some of the consumer items in Manitoba that jumped in price over the December-to-December period were passenger-vehicle registration fees (up 29.4 per cent), fresh vegetables (up 20.4 per cent), and cigarettes (up 10.1 per cent), Statistics Canada said.

Some of the items that saw notable price declines were coffee and tea (down 11.4 per cent), furniture (down 10.8 per cent), and men's clothing (down 8.8 per cent).

Three other provinces Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador and Saskatchewan -- had higher annual inflation rates in December. PEI led the pack, at 3.0 per cent, while Canada's annual rate for December was 1.2 per cent.

Canada's December rate was also below the Bank of Canada's ideal target of two per cent, but within the desired range of one and three per cent. It was also within analyst estimates.

The last time Canada's inflation rate hit the central bank's ideal target of two per cent was in April 2012, according to Statistics Canada figures.

Friday's report "carried much more weight than normal, given that the Bank of Canada has lifted inflation to exalted status in their worry list," BMO chief economist Douglas Porter wrote in a note following the release. "However, the results are a stalemate for the market since they precisely met the bank's assumptions."

-- Staff/Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 25, 2014 B19

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