Produce is shown in a grocery store in Toronto on Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. An annual report estimates the average Canadian family will pay about $400 more for groceries and roughly $150 more for dining out next year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Inflation rises 1.9% on higher prices for fresh vegetables, mortgage costs

Year-over-year gas prices dropped 4.4 per cent last month across the country

Canada’s annual inflation was up last month as price pressures strengthened for fresh vegetables, mortgage interest costs and auto insurance.

Statistics Canada said Wednesday that the country’s consumer price index increased 1.9 per cent in March, in line with economists’ expectations. It was higher than its readings of 1.5 per cent for February and 1.4 per cent in January, when inflation number was at a 15-month low point.

The agency’s core inflation readings, which are considered better measures of price pressures, rose two per cent in March — up from 1.9 per cent in February. They omit more-volatile items like gasoline and are closely watched by the Bank of Canada.

The firmer inflation picture brings both gauges closer to the central bank’s ideal two per cent target, and comes as the economy works through a soft patch brought on by the drop in crude-oil prices at the end of last year.

Compared with a year earlier, Statistics Canada said consumers paid 15.7 per cent more in March for fresh vegetables, 8.1 per cent more on mortgage borrowing costs and 5.6 per cent more for car insurance.

Year-over-year gas prices dropped 4.4 per cent last month, internet costs dropped 9.2 per cent and travel tours moved down 6.4 per cent.

Higher pump prices were a major driver of inflation last year before lower gas prices weighed on the measure in recent months.

In March, however, the downward pressure from cheaper gas eased off as global oil prices climbed, Statistics Canada said.

READ MORE: B.C. cities break North American gas price record

READ MORE: British Columbians are paying more for booze but also broccoli

Inflation accelerated in every province last month, with Alberta, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island registering the strongest price growth.

The economy abruptly decelerated in the final three months of 2018. Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz has predicted the weakness to be temporary and for the economy to strengthen in the second half of 2019.

The central bank, which has hiked its key interest rate five times since mid-2017, will make a policy announcement next Wednesday. It’s widely expected to leave the benchmark unchanged.

In a separate report Wednesday, the agency said Canada’s trade deficit was $2.9 billion in February — which contributed to the country’s biggest three-month shortfall on record.

The February number followed revised trade deficits of $3.1 billion in January and $4.8 billion in December.

Exports were down 1.3 per cent in February, while imports declined 1.6 per cent.

Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Editorial: Put the phone away — just try it

Have you ever been at a restaurant with someone who won’t stop looking at their phone?

LAKE FLASHBACK: Garbage dumping and the Youbou sawmill: two subjects that never seemed to go away

Plus this week: LCSS rugby machine, and Lois Gage takes over Area I for hubby, John Ward

In Bloom Wildflower Festival celebrates spring in Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve

The Nature Conservancy of Canada’s annual event is back for its 13th year.

Once ‘The Foreigner’ arrives, everything changes in Tilghman County, Georgia

Funny, but touching, too, this play will have you in stiches. Don’t miss it

VIDEO: Killer whales hunt for seals in Vancouver harbour

Bigg’s killer whales feed on marine mammals like seals, sea lions, dolphins and even other whales

Cowichan Coffee Time: Awards, new digs and fundraising totals

• St. John Ambulance First Responder Divisional Superintendent Glyn Trafford got a… Continue reading

VIDEO: B.C.’s waving granny gets incredible send-off from school kids

Tinney Davidson has been waving at students on their way to school for over 11 years, but is moving in a month

Struggling B.C. adoption agency elects new board that intends to keep it open

The previous board announced that Choices would close May 31

Island-born Snowbirds pilot enjoying homecoming in skies over Comox

Logan Reid once stood clinging onto the fence outside the Comox Air… Continue reading

Attack on student in Courtenay ‘way more than bullying’, says mom

A Comox Valley mother said “it was way more than bullying” at… Continue reading

Vancouver man, 19, charged in human trafficking case involving teen girl

The 16-year-old girl was reported missing and later discovered in Vancouver

Blaine, Wash. inn owner, charged with smuggling people into B.C., granted bail

Robert Joseph Boule ordered to turn away anyone indicating a plan to enter Canada illegally

Most Read