Canadian inflation rises in April; gas prices strengthen from carbon pricing

Excluding gasoline, the inflation rate rose 2.3 per cent in April compared to a year earlier

Statistics Canada’s offices at Tunny’s Pasture in Ottawa are shown on Friday, March 8, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang)

Canada’s annual inflation rate picked up its pace in April for a third-straight month due in part to stronger gasoline prices in provinces with new carbon-pricing systems.

The consumer price index posted a year-over-year increase of two per cent last month, up from its reading of 1.9 per cent in March and 1.5 per cent in February, Statistics Canada said Wednesday in a new report. The move brought it in line with the Bank of Canada’s ideal two per cent target.

The report said the six provinces where carbon levies were introduced or increased in April saw a larger month-over-month rise in prices at the pump.

The federal Liberal government imposed carbon levies last month on New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan because they did not have similar systems of their own. The federal move has caused controversy, and provincial governments have vowed to fight the mandated systems.

READ MORE: Vancouver expected to headline long Canadian summer of high gasoline prices

Last month, Prince Edward Island introduced its own carbon-pricing system and British Columbia increased its existing levy.

“Absolutely, when you increase the price of gasoline by applying the carbon price it’s obviously going to show up in the numbers,” said Alicia Macdonald, principal economist with The Conference Board of Canada.

She added that the levies were one of several factors that put upward pressure on pump prices. Others included the annual switch to summer-blend gasoline and higher global oil prices, she said.

Under the federal carbon-pricing program, the Liberals have said 90 per cent of the revenues collected will be returned via rebates to households in each of the four provinces. Consumers will get by far the largest share because the government expects them to ultimately pay most of the new costs, passed down from businesses.

Gas prices rose month-to-month in April in all provinces — and, combined, were up 10 per cent.

Excluding gasoline, the inflation rate rose 2.3 per cent in April compared to a year earlier.

Consumers paid more last month for mortgage borrowing costs, fresh vegetables and autos last month, while they saw lower price tags for hotels, kids’ clothing and digital equipment.

April’s headline inflation reading matched expectations from economists.

In reaching the mid-point of the Bank of Canada’s inflation target zone of one to three per cent, governor Stephen Poloz is unlikely to be under immediate pressure to move his trend-setting interest rate in either direction.

“It just reinforces the notion that the Bank of Canada is in a wait-and-see mode,” Macdonald said.

The Statistics Canada report said the average of its three gauges for core inflation, which are considered better measures of underlying price pressures by omitting volatile items like gasoline, slowed slightly to 1.9 per cent in April, down from two per cent the previous month.

Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Northern B.C.’s Ridley coal terminal sold, Canada divests, First Nations to own portion

Ten per cent of shares transferred to the Lax Kw’alaams Band and the Metlakatla First Nation

Haida artist Derek Edenshaw helps Rupert spruce up city

A giant kraken, painted by local artists under Edenshaw’s tutelage, is now on display

Haida Gwaii teacher denied paid bereavement travel leave

Arbitrator sides with B.C. Teachers Federation in dispute over funeral trip

Skeena mainstem closed to recreational sockeye

Escapements expected to be below 800,000 threshold

Rainbow Yarnbombing takes over

Haida Gwaii Knitting Group surprise the islands

VIDEO: B.C. MLA Michelle Stilwell takes first steps in nearly 30 years

‘It actually felt like walking. It’s been 27 years… but it felt realistic to me’

Dog recovering after being drenched in hot coffee, B.C. man charged

Man was taken into custody, charged, and released pending a court date

Taekwondo instructor, 21, identified as B.C. bat rabies victim

Nick Major, 21, an instructor at Cascadia Martial Arts in Parksville

Science expedition to Canada’s largest underwater volcano departs Vancouver Island

Crews prepared for a two-week research mission to the Explorer Seamount

B.C. shipyard to get one-third of $1.5 billion frigate-repair contract

The federal government has promised to invest $7.5 billion to maintain the 12 frigates

Anglican Church to review governance structure after same-sex marriage change fails

Some say the current system to change doctrine gives too much voting power to a smaller class of bishops

B.C. adding fast-charge stations for electric highway trips

Okanagan, Vancouver Island, Kootenay stations ready for use

Worried about bats? Here’s what to do if you come across one in B.C.

Bat expert with the BC Community Bat Program urges caution around the small creatures

B.C. on right road with tougher ride-hailing driver rules, says expert

The provincial government is holding firm that ride-hailing drivers have a Class 4 licence

Most Read