Manitoba has lowest inflation rate in Canada due to gas tax break: premier

New numbers from Statistics Canada show that Manitoba has the lowest inflation rate in the country, largely due to the gas tax break.

On Tuesday, Premier Wab Kinew announced that the province’s inflation rate was 0.8 per cent in January – down from 1.7 per cent the month before.

Kinew added that Manitoba is the only province with a consumer inflation rate below the Bank of Canada’s target range.

“Today we are also seeing the economy-wide benefits of this step that we have taken in cutting the gas tax,” the premier said at a news conference.

“Our move to cut the provincial gas tax has lowered inflation in Manitoba.”

According to Statistics Canada’s Consumer Price Index (CPI), the gas tax holiday, which removed the 14-cent provincial tax on gas, contributed to the national decline in inflation. Canada’s annual inflation rate tumbled to 2.9 per cent in January, down from 3.4 per cent in December.

The federal agency also reports that Manitoba’s gas prices fell 20.2 per cent in January 2024 compared to January 2023.

“Manitobans can feel proud that not only are we taking steps to lower costs for your family, but we’re also moving the national economy in a good direction,” Kinew said.

However, not all Manitobans are feeling the relief.

Harvest Manitoba said they helped more than 21,000 households last month – 3,000 more families compared to 2023.

“It’s very concerning,” said Meaghan Erbus, network advocacy and education director with Harvest Manitoba. “We’re always hoping for that number to trend down. To put it into perspective, that’s 50,000 people every single month accessing our services at a food bank somewhere in Manitoba, half of those people or children.”

Grocery prices in Manitoba are showing deceleration, dropping from 4.5 per cent to 2.7 per cent.

While that is an improvement, Harvest Manitoba said people are hurting, struggling to buy staple items such as bread, meat and fresh fruit.

“The majority of folks that access our food banks do not drive; they use transit,” Erbus said. “And in fact, they purchase bus tickets over bus passes, because they find that too expensive. So unfortunately, that rebate, that money doesn’t trickle down to the folks that are using food banks.”

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