Alberta inflation rate spikes as carbon tax helps drive up gas prices, Statistics Canada says – Calgary

The annual inflation rate has climbed to 2.5 per cent in Alberta — driven largely by soaring gas prices that can be attributed in part to the province’s new carbon tax, Statistics Canada says.

The climb in the consumer price index year-over-year in January, compares to a more modest one per cent jump recorded in December, according to the CPI January 2017 report released Friday.

Gas prices have leaped by 33.9 per cent in Alberta in the 12 months ending in January — including a 7.9 per cent jump in December.

The increase was partly due to the 4.49 cents-per-litre carbon levy that Rachel Notley’s NDP government introduced on Jan. 1, 2017, the federal agency said in its report.

In Calgary, the price of regular gasoline from a self-serve filling station climbed by more than 12 per cent — nearly 12 cents a litre — in a month.

It went from an average of 94.9 cents a litre in December to 106.8 cents a litre in January.

In Edmonton, it climbed by 11.2 cents a litre, from 89.7 in December to 100.9 in January.

Shutdowns late last year at refineries in Illinois and Indiana have also been linked to rising gas prices. 

Natural gas prices spike by 42.3%

Natural gas prices spiked by 42.3 per cent year over year in January, also driven in part by the carbon tax, Statistics Canada said.

Todd Hirsch, chief economist at ATB Financial, says the uptick in Alberta’s inflation rate isn’t worth getting excited about. 

“The inflation increase was driven by two commodities in the basket of goods and services — that is gasoline and natural gas [for home heating]. Those commodities tend to be very, very volatile month over month,” he said. 

The cost of rent was flat on a monthly basis in January, but consumers paid 1.9 per cent less on a year-over-year basis — the largest decline among the provinces.

Shelter costs rose by 2.4 per cent across Canada.

From January 2016 to January 2017, the electricity index declined by 8.2 per cent, more in…

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