A headline about inflation this week was, “Inflation rate drops to 5.2% in February”.
However, a closer inspection reveals that prices for food purchased from stores in February were up 10.6% compared with a year ago, the seventh consecutive month of double-digit increases.
Anyone buying groceries will know that food prices continue to increase. This can be even more significant for those who live in rural communities, where there may be less local grocery store competition.
Recently, a local business owner who produces food products found in many local grocery stores, brought to my attention one of the reasons why this occurs. As we all know, the trucking of goods is significant in our grocery store food chain. The business owner I met mentioned shipping charges have increased dramatically due to the rising fuel cost. Now, the shipping company adds a surcharge solely for the carbon tax.
Given that the carbon tax in B.C. is set to increase on April 1, to $65 per tonne, this small business owner is very concerned his company will again have to raise prices, as the costs must be passed along.
Unfortunately, this is all part of (the current) “made-in-Canada” food inflation and does not end there. Also occurring on April 1 the federal government is set to increase the excise tax on wine, beer and spirits by more than 6%. Remember, increased trucking costs apply to those industries as well.
Canadian consumers will be asked to pay more when many can no longer afford to pay all their bills at the end of the month. And, there is also the compounding effect. For the business owner I mentioned, who is facing higher costs due to the carbon tax surcharge for the raw goods his company receives, the results will be higher prices as those finished goods are shipped to local grocery stores.
The carbon tax surcharge must be passed to consumers at local grocery stores, particularly those in rural areas with higher shipping costs. For more wealthy residents, higher grocery prices are not a problem. However, this is a massive financial burden for many families with variable rate mortgages who may now pay $1,000 more monthly just in added interest charges (on their mortgage).
Likewise, higher grocery prices have created significant additional hardship for those on fixed incomes.
In every region of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola riding, I have spoken with staff or volunteers at local food banks who have told me the uptick of demand, coupled with record-high inflation, is incredibly challenging for their operations.
While most of those now receiving support at food banks are seniors, many are also families where, despite the parents working one or more jobs, higher housing and rising grocery bills are forcing these families to rely on food banks to supplement their budgets.
My question this week:
How does food inflation personally impact you or your family?
I can be reached at [email protected] or call toll-free at 1-800-665-8711.
Dan Albas is the Conservative MP for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.