‘I'm a single mom and it's really, really hard’: Inflation hitting Calgarians from all angles
Rising prices at the pumps and in grocery stores helped send inflation rates to a new pandemic-era high last month, as the consumer price index posted its largest year-over-year gain in 18 years.
Statistics Canada said Wednesday the annual pace of inflation in October rose to 4.7 per cent nationally, the fastest pace since February 2003. Calgary's rate increased slightly to 4.3 per cent.
Driving much of the gain was gasoline prices, which rose 41.7 per cent compared with a year ago.
"On this day last year, (it was) 89 to 91 cents a liter, now (it's) between $1.39 and $1.43 a litre," said Dan McTeague with Canadians For Affordable Energy. "So you can pretty much get an idea of how expensive things have become and how expensive they're going to get."
McTeague says a weak Canadian dollar isn't helping and as winter takes hold, demand for oil and gas products will increase while supply is down. He says it's time for the federal government to step in and help struggling consumers.
"I estimate that Ottawa was raking in an extra half billion to potentially three-quarters of a billion dollars on the GST increase of fuel of 43 per cent since last year," said McTeague. "That warrants the federal government to give some of that money back, especially (to) those of us who need to heat and those who need to feed. I think the federal government, if it has a heart, it has to recognize beyond the mistakes of its policies that I believe has contributed no small weight to these inflationary pressures."
Excluding energy prices, Statistics Canada said the consumer price index would have been up 3.3 per cent last month compared with October 2020.
Economists said that between gasoline, rising housing costs and a near four per-cent bump in food prices, particularly for meat, Canadians can't easily curb spending.
Marnie Lyon is a single mom with two daughters from southeast Calgary. She says her bank account shows a negative balance right now because of inflation.
"I buy sale items. Is it on sale? No. Then we can't buy it," said Lyon. "Is it on sale? Yes. Then we buy it."
Lyon says she doesn't see an end in sight where prices might come down or at least level off.
"Not with all the flooding right now (in BC), they can't get the transportation trucks out or in the tanker that was on fire – all the appliances washing up on Vancouver Island," she said. "I cannot do it. I'm a single mom and it's really, really hard, I'm going to cry, It's hard."
Homeowner replacement costs, a marker for new home prices, rose year over year by 13.5 per cent, marking six straight months of double-digit readings.
October marked seven straight months that headline inflation has come in above the Bank of Canada's target range of between one and three per cent, which has not been seen since a similar run ended in December 1991.
Statistics Canada said the average of the three measures for core inflation, which are considered better gauges of underlying price pressures and closely tracked by the Bank of Canada, was 2.67 per cent for October, unchanged from September.
The central bank has warned that the annual rate could get close to five per cent by the end of the year, and expects to start raising its trendsetting policy rate beginning anywhere between April and September.
Politically, the Opposition Conservatives called Wednesday for the Liberal government to act on the cost of living by reining in planned spending, while New Democrats pushed for a boost in benefits to seniors and families.
Provincially, all but Manitoba and Saskatchewan saw the annual pace of price gains accelerate between September and October, with Prince Edward Island leading the pack at 6.6 per cent.
- With files from the Canadian Press