Yes, your food got more expensive — again — last month.
It’ll likely get worse, experts say.
Manitoba’s year-over-year inflation rate hit 7.5 per cent in April, according to Statistics Canada’s latest consumer price index. It surpasses the national average of 6.8 per cent, which is Canada’s highest in over three decades.
Overall food costs rose 9.7 per cent last month compared to April 2021.
"We look for everything on clearance," said Gerald Ragot, a retired father of three.
Ragot might hit three different shops — Walmart, FreshCo and Giant Tiger — in a week to find the cheapest items. He scored $5 chicken breasts at Walmart on Taylor Avenue Wednesday.
Meat was up 10.1 per cent last month compared to April 2021. During the same period, fresh fruit and vegetable prices jumped 10 and 8.2 per cent, respectively. Pasta rose 19.6 per cent, cereal hiked 13.9 per cent and bread increased 12.2 per cent.
"We don’t buy butter anymore because of the price," Ragot said. "That’s a luxury item, it seems."
Butter was up 15 per cent year-over-year.
Ragot said he’s retired from a railway job and is on a pension. His wife works, but they have three children under the age of 19 living at home, some with dietary restrictions.
“We don’t buy butter anymore because of the price. That’s a luxury item, it seems.” – Gerald Ragot
"There’s no monies left over to invest," Ragot, 60, said.
He’s pulled cash from investments to offset costs, he said.
"That’s my retirement fund, and I’m retired, so I can do that from time to time. I try not to, because we’re not that old yet."
Gone are pizza nights on paydays and "extras" like fast food stops, Ragot said. He’s considered taking a job for extra money — maybe even at Walmart — but it would affect his pension, he said.
Trips to the Gimli cottage will be fewer and longer, Ragot added.
Barb Wonnacott, another Walmart shopper Wednesday, said she’d be making fewer drives to her Grand Marais cabin.
Nationally, fuel pump prices increased 36.3 per cent this April from last. They fell slightly — 0.7 per cent — from March.
"We’ll probably just be staying at home a lot more," Wonnacott said about herself and her 20-year-old daughter.
She noted her pay as a nanny hasn’t risen with the cost of goods. But, some minimum wage jobs have boosted rates to attract workers.
"If one wage goes up, they should all go up at least a little bit," she said. "You wonder why there’s so many low-income families. People just aren’t paid enough to survive."
Canadian employees’ average hourly wages rose 3.3. per cent from April 2021 to last April, falling behind the surging cost of goods.
Wonnacott said she buys fewer salads and opts for frozen fruit.
"You have a certain standard of living you’re used to if you make decent money, but now that everything else is rising, it’s like, ‘Do I really make good money?’ Because what I could do before, I can’t do now."
Some seniors are choosing not to attend medical appointments because they can’t afford the cost of transportation, said Samantha Rodeck, executive director of Transportation Options Network for Seniors.
"The whole transportation realm for older adults is often forgotten," Rodeck said. "We assume people will always get places. We assume everyone will always have rides, and we often forget the cost."
Canada’s inflation rate boosted 0.6 per cent on a month-over-month basis in April, slowing from March’s month-over-month gain of 1.4 per cent.
“Barring a deep dive in oil prices in coming weeks and months, we expect that the worst is yet to come on the headline readings, and that inflation north of six per cent will still be with us by the end of the year.” – Bank of Montreal chief economist Douglas Porter
Inflation is spreading more broadly and "at clear risk of getting firmly entrenched," Bank of Montreal chief economist Douglas Porter wrote in a brief report.
"Barring a deep dive in oil prices in coming weeks and months, we expect that the worst is yet to come on the headline readings, and that inflation north of six per cent will still be with us by the end of the year," he wrote.
The Bank of Canada has raised its key interest rate to one per cent and is scheduled to make another announcement June 1. This could cool consumer spending in some markets, like housing, said Fletcher Baragar, a University of Manitoba economics professor
A continued slowdown of month-over-month increases is probable, barring unforeseen catastrophes, Baragar said.
“I wouldn’t expect to see prices going down. I wouldn’t even expect to see them stabilizing.” – U of M economics professor Fletcher Baragar
"I wouldn’t expect to see prices going down. I wouldn’t even expect to see them stabilizing," he said. "I think they’re going to still go up over the course of the next year… but probably at not as fast a rate as what we’ve seen."
Some of the issues driving inflation — COVID-19, supply chain snarls, bad weather — are easing, though not gone, Baragar said. Other contributors to global disruption, like Russia’s war in Ukraine, are ongoing.
Shelter costs rose 7.4 per cent year-over-year in April, the fastest pace since June of 1983.
Natural gas was up 22.2 per cent, while fuel oil and other fuels increased 64.4 per cent.
- With files from the Canadian Press
Gabby is a big fan of people, writing and learning. She graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in the spring of 2020.