By the Numbers: Consumer Price Index (CPI) in Canada

The Consumer Price Index, or CPI, is used to estimate the extent to which the purchasing power of money changes, or put another way it’s a measure of inflation or deflation over time. CPI is measured by comparing the cost of a fixed basket of commodities (like food and clothing) and services purchased by Canadian consumers usually over a 12 month period.


The provinces

From October 2009 to October 2010, consumer prices increased in every province, with Ontario experiencing the sharpest increase at 3.4%.

Nationally, the CPI rose by 2.4%.

Drivers paid 10.6% more for gasoline, with electricity prices and insurance premiums also experiencing a significant jump.

In British Columbia prices went up 2.4%, while in Quebec prices rose 1.4%.

In Alberta prices rose by a modest 1.2%, and Newfoundland & Labrador and Nova Scotia saw the cost of goods go up by 3%.


What went up and by how much?

From November 2009 to November 2010, prices increased in seven of the CPI’s eight major components of the CPI. The only exception was the cost of clothing and footwear, which recorded a decline. (Energy and gasoline are considered special aggregates, not part of the eight major components of the basket).

Food prices increased 1.5% and consumers paid 2.5% more for food purchased from restaurants.

Prices for fresh vegetables increased 5%.

Shelter costs increased 2.6%; tenants paid 1.2% more in rent while homeowners paid 5.4% more for home and mortgage insurance.

Transportation costs went up 4.6% while the prices at the pump were 7.2% higher than a year earlier.

Energy prices increased 6.7% while electricity prices recorded a 5.9% increase from the previous year.



Vol. XI No. 04 • January 24, 2011