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B.C. inflation rate highest among all the big provinces in March: StatCan

Inflation cools to 4.7 per cent, outpaces national rate
Prices at the grocery store continue to prove challenging for British Columbians

Inflation continues to make a retreat in B.C., falling five ticks to 4.7 per cent last month.

Despite the decline, March marked the ninth straight month inflation in the province outpaced the national rate (4.3 per cent).

The West Coast also tied Quebec for the highest inflation rate among the large provinces, according to Statistics Canada data released Tuesday.

The declines both provincially and nationally come after the Bank of Canada spent a year hiking its key rate in a bid to tamp down on inflation by making borrowing costs more expensive.

But the central bank paused further rate hikes in March and again in April following signs inflation was cooling. The key rate currently sits at 4.5 per cent.

“Today's report shows that all roads do indeed point to three per cent inflation in the months ahead, with most short-term underlying metrics settling into the low three per cent range,” BMO Economics chief economist Douglas Porter said in a note.

“The key question for policymakers and markets is whether a 4.5 per cent policy rate is acceptably restrictive given those inflation trends? We and the Bank of Canada believe so, but the BoC will need to be patient at that level to push inflation back into the target zone below three per cent.”

RBC (TSX:RY) economist Claire Fan echoed Porter’s sentiments, predicting the Bank of Canada is set to hold steady on the current overnight rate for the time being following the most recent inflation numbers.

Gasoline prices dropped nationally for the second month in a row (-13.8 per cent), making for the largest yearly decline since July 2020.

But grocery prices continued to put pressure on Canadians, rising 9.7 per cent in March compared with 10.6 per cent in February.

Prices for fresh fruit were up 7.1 per cent and prices for fresh veggies were up 10.8 per cent last month.

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