Inflation rate up in April to 6.8 per cent

OTTAWA — The cost of nearly everything at the grocery store continued to climb higher to push the annual inflation rate up in April.

Statistics Canada said Wednesday that its consumer price index for April rose 6.8 per cent compared with a year ago, up from a gain of 6.7 per cent for March.

The rate was the highest since January 1991 when the annual rate was 6.9 per cent.

Overall food costs rose 8.8 per cent compared with a year ago, while Canadians paid 9.7 per cent more for food at stores in April, the largest increase since September 1981. The cost of food in restaurants was up 6.6 per cent.

Compared with a year ago, the cost of fresh fruit was up 10 per cent, fresh vegetables gained 8.2 per cent and meat rose 10.1 per cent. The cost of bread rose 12.2 per cent, while pasta gained 19.6 per cent and rice added 7.4 per cent.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February has put upward price pressure on food products that use wheat, Statistics Canada said, while poor weather in growing regions has also impacted prices for food.

The agency also said higher prices for things such as fertilizer and natural gas continued to increase the cost for farmers, who have passed along some of these costs.

Also contributing to the overall rise in the cost of living was a 7.4 per cent increase in shelter costs as the cost to heat a home climbed higher. Natural gas rose 22.2 per cent and fuel oil and other fuels gained 64.4 per cent.

Compared with a year ago consumers paid 36.3 per cent more for gasoline in April, however the increase was smaller than the year-over-year gain of 39.8 per cent in March.

Excluding gasoline, the annual rate for April was 5.8 per cent compared with a year-over-year gain of 5.5 per cent for March.

The average of the three measures of core inflation that are closely watched by the Bank of Canada rose to 4.23 per cent in April compared with 3.93 per cent in March.