Price increases in Yellowknife over the past year were the sharpest in three decades, the NWT Bureau of Statistics says.
The city’s Consumer Price Index rose 6.9 percent in March 2022 compared to a year ago. The bureau said this marked “the largest annual increase for Yellowknife since May 1991.”
The picture is similar nationwide, where inflation is also at its highest in 30 years, though the year-on-year increase is a little higher in Yellowknife than other nearby centres.
By comparison, the year-on-year price increase was 6.7 percent across Canada, 6.5 percent for Edmonton, 6.1 percent for Whitehorse and 3.7 percent for Iqaluit.
Prince Edward Island had the highest increase (8.9 percent) while Saskatchewan had the lowest (5.7 percent).
The Consumer Price Index works by assigning a value of 100 to prices in 2002. That’s considered the base period, and today’s index shows the percentage increase in prices between 2002 and now.
Importantly, CPI measures change in price and not the price itself. If one area has a higher CPI than another, that doesn’t mean prices are higher there. It means there has been a larger price increase in that area, in percentage terms.
(If something already cost more in Yellowknife than in Calgary in 2002, and the price has since increased by the same percentage in both cities, the CPI will be identical in both places and the thing will still cost more in Yellowknife.)
A look at the data since 2011 shows the effect of the pandemic. For most of the past decade, prices rose at roughly the same rate in Yellowknife and across Canada as a whole. In 2020 and 2021 – where the blue and red lines converge, below – price increases weren’t as severe in Yellowknife as they were nationwide.
Data for 2021-22 suggests Yellowknife is now back to experiencing roughly the same overall price increase as the rest of the nation.
“In Yellowknife, the main driver of higher prices was fuel oil and other fuels,” the NWT Bureau of Statistics said in a Wednesday news release.
That category rose 43.4 percent year-on-year and also drove a 6.1-percent annual increase in Yellowknifers’ costs associated with shelter. Gas prices rose 34.5 percent, contributing to an overall 11.7-percent increase in local transportation costs.
Food prices in Yellowknife rose 7.1 percent over the past year. Meat, fish and seafood, fruit and nuts all increased at least 10 percent. The cost of food from restaurants, however, rose only 1.6 percent, the bureau said.
Increases in food prices have been a little more pronounced across Canada as a whole than in Yellowknife during the pandemic, the bureau’s data for the past decade shows. Clothing, however, continues to see higher price increases in Yellowknife than nationwide. (Clothing’s price index in Yellowknife has risen 11 percentage points since 2011. Across Canada, clothing prices have barely changed in that time.)
The orange line shows the pronounced increase in transportation costs – the price of gas being an obvious factor – over the past two years. The rate of increase has been slightly higher Canada-wide than in Yellowknife.
The household category, in purple, includes the cost of household operations and furnishings – things like your phone bill, childcare, cleaning products, pet food and appliances. For years, that index has remained relatively stable in Yellowknife but steadily increasing elsewhere. In the past year, household costs rose at roughly the same rate in both Yellowknife and Canada.
Overall, the Canada-wide year-on-year figure of 6.7 percent was significantly higher than most economists had expected. Inflation has now exceeded the Bank of Canada’s target (one percent to three percent) for an entire year.
Factors behind price increases include continuing supply chain disruption and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.