The annual rate of inflation hit 6.8 per cent in April, marking a slight uptick from a month earlier, according to Statistics Canada.
Last month’s figures mark the highest levels of inflation since January 1991 and are a slight increase from the rate of 6.7 per cent recorded in March.
The agency pointed to the rising costs of food and shelter as pushing prices higher in April.
Overall food costs rose 8.8 per cent compared with a year ago, while Canadians paid 9.7 per cent more for food at stores in April, the largest increase since September 1981. The cost of food in restaurants was up 6.6 per cent.
Compared with a year ago, the cost of fresh fruit was up 10 per cent, fresh vegetables gained 8.2 per cent and meat rose 10.1 per cent. The cost of bread rose 12.2 per cent, while pasta gained 19.6 per cent and rice added 7.4 per cent.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February has put upward price pressure on food products that use wheat, Statistics Canada said, while poor weather in growing regions has also impacted prices for food.
The agency also said higher prices for things such as fertilizer and natural gas continued to increase the cost for farmers, who have passed along some of these costs.
Also contributing to the overall rise in the cost of living was a 7.4 per cent increase in shelter costs as the cost to heat a home climbed higher. Natural gas rose 22.2 per cent and fuel oil and other fuels gained 64.4 per cent.
Compared with a year ago consumers paid 36.3 per cent more for gasoline in April, however the increase was smaller than the year-over-year gain of 39.8 per cent in March.
Excluding gasoline, the annual rate for April was 5.8 per cent compared with a year-over-year gain of 5.5 per cent for March.
Statistics Canada said gas prices increased at a slower pace in April than in March, “moderating” the overall increase in the agency’s Consumer Price Index.
But CIBC senior economist Andrew Grantham said in a note Wednesday morning that record-high gas prices could continue to push inflation higher in the months to come.
“With gasoline and agricultural prices still on the rise, headline inflation could well accelerate again in May before finally slowing in the second half of the year and into 2023,” he said.
Grantham said the high inflation figures in April put the Bank of Canada “well on course” to hike its benchmark interest rate another 50 basis points at its next meeting on June 2.
Tu Nguyen, economist with RSM Canada, said in a note that the slowing pace of overall price growth could hint a “possible peak” for inflation in the coming months.
But she also noted that the combination of the demand for gasoline during the summer travel season and pressures from the war in Ukraine and COVID-shutdowns in China on the global supply chain will likely keep prices “elevated” in the months to come.
Provincially, Ontario posted an inflation rate of 6.9 per cent in April, a slight tick down from the 7.0 per cent recorded in March. Alberta, too, saw a slight tick down to 6.3 per cent last month.
British Columbia saw the biggest month-to-month jump, with the CPI in the province rising to 6.7 per cent from 6.0 per cent a month earlier.
Prince Edward Island meanwhile maintained its inflation rate of 8.9 per cent last month, the highest rate of any province.
— with files from Canadian Press
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