Increased inflation rate balloons cost of food, housing, gas in Canada

Inflation is making it more expensive to purchase food to put on the table. Ria Renouf tells us Canada’s rate spiked to 4.1% in August – that’s the highest it’s been since 2003.

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Canada is seeing its largest year-over-year inflation increase since 2003, but what does that mean for your wallet? Unfortunately, it’s not good.

The cost of housing went up, as did that of gas by 32.5 per cent year-over-year in August, according to Statistics Canada.

It’s also becoming wildly expensive to put a meal on the table for you and your family. The price to buy chicken, for example, is usually stable. But it went up 10.6 per cent since January.

“That’s a lot,” said Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dahlousie University, who notes only a two or three per cent increase is expected per year. He says the price of meat, in general is up.

“Beef is up about 12 per cent. Pork is actually up maybe four or five per cent since January, so it’s not too bad. But still, it’s quite a bit,” Charlebois said.

He breaks it down, in dollars and cents, for what this means for you:

“The average family of four in Canada will spend about $2,500 on meat products during a year. If you add 10 per cent, that’s basically $250 since January. That’s basically what you’re looking at right now, and that’s just for meat. You have to consider how inflation is impacting other sections of the grocery store as well.”

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The price of tomatoes and bacon are also up, by 20 per cent and 19.6 per cent respectively. The cost of milk, flour, and cooking oil are also on the rise.

Charlebois doesn’t believe there’s much relief in sight.

“It’s going to be tricky for a while and I think COVID-19 has made two variables a little more complicated,” he said. “Logistics and transportation are more costly. Energy costs are going up as well. Oil is more expensive, so we’re expecting heating to be more expensive. Also, transportation could become more expensive on the continent and offshore, as well. We’ve heard about offshore issues with COVID, basically it’s costing three or four times more to transport anything, including food right now in Canada. And I think it’s not going to change anytime soon, to be honest.”

The other impact consumers may not see, but will feel when it hits their bottom line, is the ongoing labour crisis in this country.

“Many companies have opted to close if they don’t have the personnel. But in food, you can’t do that,” Charlebois explained. “In food, you either need to pay more or automate your operations and right now a lot of employers are paying their employees more… So, it’s great for employees across the food supply chain but at some point, consumers will have to pay for those increases.”

Buying groceries is just one source of food, Charlebois adds. If you haven’t already, you’ll likely also be paying higher prices at your favourite restaurants.

“If you’ve shown up at a restaurant recently, you’d have noticed that it’s costing way more to get a lovely hamburger or spaghetti or linguini alfredo — whatever you’re ordering — it’s basically costing more due to labour costs [and] ingredients costs are going up.”

He says climate change events, such as B.C.’s heat dome that literally burned many crops, isn’t helping things either.

“We were expecting a really challenging year for consumers because 2021 is a bit different than other years. Typically, you would look at one wild card, which is really climate change [because] you never know with Mother Nature with what’s going on [or] what harvests will look like at the end of the cycle. But this year, we’re dealing with two wild cards: climate change and COVID.”

He says cheaper items right now include baked beans in a can, orange juice, and pasta. But the latter isn’t expected to last, so you might want to consider stocking up a bit.

If you’re trying to save money, Charlebois stresses how critical it is to go to multiple grocery stores, look for discounts, check weekly flyers, and use coupons.

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