Statistics Canada building and signs are pictured in Ottawa on Wednesday, July 3, 2019. Statistics Canada will reveal today how the country’s official measure of inflation fared in August with expectations for another month of near-zero readings. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Consumer price index in August hits 0.1 per cent, Statistics Canada says

Gasoline prices down 11.1 per cent compared to August 2019

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says the consumer price index in August was up 0.1 per cent compared with a year ago.

The annual inflation rate was unchanged from the year-over-year increase of 0.1 per cent in July.

The average economist estimate had been for a year-over-year increase of 0.4 per cent for August, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

Gasoline prices were down 11.1 per cent compared with August 2019, following a 14.9 per cent decline recorded in July.

Excluding gasoline from the inflation calculations, the consumer price index rose by 0.6 per cent in August.

Prices were up in other categories such as personal care services like haircuts, which had a year-over-year increase of 7.2 per cent.

The average of Canada’s three measures for core inflation, which are considered better gauges of underlying price pressures and closely tracked by the Bank of Canada, was 1.7 per cent.

The Bank of Canada intends to keep its key policy interest rate at 0.25 per cent, which is as low as it will go, until inflation is back at the central bank’s two per cent target.

The hope is that by keeping its rate low, the central bank can drive down rates on mortgages and loans to make it easier for people to borrow and spend to aid the economy as it recuperates from the COVID-19 crisis.

Experts suggest the Bank of Canada’s key rate could stay where it is until late 2022 or even into 2023, although the pace of a recovery is largely dependent on the path of the pandemic, which has affected large swaths of the Canadian economy.

The monthly inflation report noted that air travel costs fell 16 per cent compared with August 2019, following a decline of 8.6 per cent in July as demand falls during the pandemic and airlines have offered discounts in response.

Regionally, prices rose the fastest in Prince Edward Island, where Statistics Canada says consumers paid more for cigarettes – which registered an annualized increase of 7.8 per cent – after the province instated a special tax in mid-July.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 16, 2020.

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