OTTAWA - The cost to put food on the table and gasoline in the car pushed up the cost of living in September, lifting the annual pace of price increases to a near two-decade high with no clear end in sight to the elevated readings.
Overall, headline inflation last month was 4.4 per cent - the fastest annual pace since February 2003. Statistics Canada said the annual inflation rate would have been 3.5 per cent had it excluded gasoline prices from its calculation.
Economists warned Wednesday that inflation readings could hover around four per cent until the end of the year.
Driving much of the overall rise in the consumer price index were prices at the pumps, as consumers paid 32.8 per cent more last month for gasoline than in September 2020.
Food prices overall rose 3.9 per cent year-over-year, compared to the 2.7 per cent recorded in August, mostly because of higher prices for food at stores.
Meat prices rose at their fastest annual pace since April 2015, pushed higher by double-digit increases in chicken and beef. Bacon prices were up 20 per cent.
Even the smallest creatures had an outsized effect: prices for shrimp and prawns lifted seafood prices because of supply chain issues among major exporters.
Garima Talwar Kapoor, director of policy and research at Maytree, an anti-poverty think-tank, said people with higher disposable income may simply forgo some restaurant outings if inflation remains high.
The choices would be more severe for those with low or fixed incomes whose earnings have stayed stagnant, she said, meaning their purchasing power is diminished as prices rise faster than wages.
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