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Gas price hikes push annual inflation rate to 3.3 per cent in March

OTTAWA – Statistics Canada says the country’s annual inflation rate jumped more than a point to 3.3 per cent last month.

The surprisingly large 1.1 point increase in the price of consumer goods was the biggest year over year leap since September 2008.

The increase month over month was also 1.1 per cent.

The agency says prices rose last month in all eight major components it tracks, but the main contributor was gasoline and other energy-related activities.

Gas prices rose 18.9 per cent, fuel oil and other fuels surged 31.3 per cent, electricity costs increased by 4.3 per cent, and transportation costs, which have a heavy gasoline component, were up 6.6 per cent.

But other items also contributed to the price escalation. Food increased 3.3 per cent as the price for fresh vegetables rose by 18.6 per cent.

Shelter costs, with the exception of mortgage interest, recreation, household operations, health and personal care, alcohol and tobacco, even clothing and footwear, normally downward contributors to inflation, were all higher in March than last year, although the gains were more modest.

Regionally, Nova Scotia had the highest inflation rate of any province in Canada at 3.9 per cent, while price increases were lowest in Alberta at two per cent.