CALGARY -- An increase in Canada’s annual pace of inflation is driven by higher prices of food, including meat and fresh vegetables, StatCan said Wednesday.

Statistics Canada says the consumer price index in October was up 0.7 per cent compared with a year ago, and the sharpest increase since June was almost entirely driven by rising food prices, especially lettuce and fresh and frozen chicken.

“Typically chicken would go up by two to three per cent in a year,  seven per cent in just a few months, certainly it’s related to COVID because costs are going up,” said Sylvain Charlebois, professor of agri-food analytics at Dalhousie University.

He explained public health policies have to be followed, which increases the cost of supplies and personnel.

“Produce prices are up nine to 10 per cent on average and we are expecting a bit of a bumpy ride due to California wildfires," she said.

Charlebois adds that would impact Alberta and British Columbia, since those provinces buy the most California produce.

Overall however, he said the food inflation rate is not larger in Alberta than other parts of Canada, but it might not feel like that.

“A lot of people have lost their jobs, salaries aren’t moving a lot so you’re basically seeing a lot of Albertans pay more for food relative to the money they have in their pockets," she said.

Canada’s latest consumer price index is up from September, which had a year-over-year rise of 0.5 per cent, but increases in the past eight months have all been under one per cent.

Economists had expected a year-over-year increase of 0.4 per cent, according to financial data firm Refinitiv.

Rising housing costs contributed the most to the year-over-year increase as lower mortgage rates have coincided with increased demand for single-family homes.

With files from the Canadian Press