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Rising inflation, energy prices creating cost of living concerns

Between inflation being a 30-year high, energy bills skyrocketing, and food prices soaring, the question being asked is: how can people cope?

Statistics Canada says the rate of inflation rose to 5.1 per cent on a year-over-year basis in January, marking the first time it broke the 5 per cent mark in over 30-years.

Combine that with food prices seeing a 6.5 per cent increase and energy costs on the rise, people are having a tough time keeping up with the bills.

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“COVID-19 pandemic-related challenges continue to weigh on supply chains, and consumer energy prices remain elevated,” according to Statistics Canada.

“Taken together, Canadians continued to feel the impact of rising prices for goods and services, especially for housing, food, and gasoline.”

While the cost of everything is higher, Statistics Canada notes wages only went up 2.4 per cent within that same period.

Sylvain Charlebois, Director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University, says he doesn’t expect prices to stabilize anytime soon.

“The bottom line is we’re looking at several months of higher costs at the grocery store,” he told CityNews.

“Looking at the numbers for January, it was propelled by produce, bakery, which is exactly what we forecast but dairy will take over in February, March, and April. We are expecting dairy to become more expensive.”

Despite food price increases, Charlebois says there are still ways you can save money [on] grocery shopping.

“People will need to tackle grocery shopping very differently, maybe go to different stores, you’ll have to spend more time strategizing around grocery shopping and look for the ‘enjoy tonight’ deals more often,” he explained.

He also says you can save more money by reducing waste, using coupons, and looking at fliers more frequently.

“You would be amazed by how much money you can save if you actually look at fliers on a regular basis — every single week — a family of four can save anywhere from $500 to a thousand dollars [a year] if they look at fliers every week.”

He explains it’s because people become more educated about pricing cycles, how much to spend on certain items and when the deals are.

Meantime, economist Moshe Lander says the best way to beat these increased costs is to just pay them and push through the next few months to year.

“As much as it stinks to be a consumer right now experiencing 30-year highs and inflation levels that haven’t been seen since our parent’s time, the reality is the best thing that needs to be at this point is you need to just eat it. It’s a terrible thing to say, a nasty thing to say, but we can’t give in to this spiral effect,” Lander said.

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“This inflation is temporary in nature, it’s a confluence of one-off events that hopefully go away within the next six to twelve months and at that point things get back to what we’ve gotten used to over the last 30-years which is that one to three per cent inflation, not five per cent.”

Lander says if employers try to offset inflation by increasing salaries, it could create more inflationary issues as companies try to recover profit margins by increasing prices.

A lot of people are experiencing ‘sticker shock’ when reading their latest Enmax bills, and they’re venting about it on social media.

-With files from The Canadian Press

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