The Consumer Price Index increased at an annual pace of 4.8 per cent in December, as sharply higher prices for food led to the cost of living going up at its fastest rate since 1991.
Statistics Canada reported Wednesday that grocery prices increased by 5.7 per cent, the biggest annual gain since 2011.
The price of fresh produce is being walloped by two things, the data agency said: “Unfavourable weather conditions in growing regions, as well as supply chain disruptions.”
The price of apples has increased by 6.7 per cent in the past year, and oranges by almost as much — 6.6 per cent.
The U.S. is the major supplier of oranges to Canada, and because of bad weather and a plant disease called citrus greening, the major growing region of Florida is on track to produce the smallest number of oranges since 1945.
That’s causing the price of frozen concentrated orange juice to skyrocket on commodities markets.
“If you’re an orange juice drinker, it means your prices are going to be going up at the store,” analyst Phil Flynn, with Chicago-based commodity trading firm Price Group, told CBC News. “The cost of orange juice has almost doubled here in the last few months, and that’s going to be passed down to the consumers.”
Other types of food are going up quickly, too. The price of frozen beef has gone up by almost 12 per cent in the past year, while ham and bacon are up by about 15 per cent.
Kendra Sozinho, a manager at the Fiesta Farms grocery store in Toronto, says costs from suppliers are going up faster than she’s ever seen “We’re seeing almost every single supplier increasing their pricing whech then increases our pricing,” she told CBC News in an interview. “I’ve been here for 20 years and I’ve never seen a jump like this.”
WATCH | Grocery store manager explains why prices are going up:
Economist Tu Nguyen with consultancy RSM says food price increases could be set to get even worse in the coming weeks and months because of new rules forbidding unvaccinated truckers from entering the country.
“The current bout of inflation is driven by supply chain disruptions, pent-up demand and inflation expectations,” she said. “While pent-up demand is expected to ease as pandemic spending winds down, supply chain and inflation expectations remain paramount challenges.”
Expect a rate hike soon
Food is far from the only thing becoming more expensive.
Shelter costs have risen by 5.4 per cent in the past year, faster than the overall inflation rate. And unlike the global forces at play pushing up food prices, the factors driving up shelter costs are all Canadian-made, TD Bank economist James Marple said.
“The one exception to the global nature of the current inflationary environment, is housing inflation, which is both domestically driven and, outside of increased incidents of extreme weather driving up insurance prices, directly related to the Bank of Canada’s policy stance,” he said.
Politicians weigh in
Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre placed the blame for high inflation squarely at the foot of the federal government, noting that as a country with abundant energy and food resources, Canada should have a built-in advantage when it comes to keeping a lid on prices.
“The biggest increases for consumer products have been those that we source right here at home, not those that depend on foreign supply chains,” he told reporters in Ottawa.
“Home price inflation is a home-grown problem,” he went on, arguing that record government spending under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is to blame for inflation. “The more he spends, the more things cost,” Poilievre said.
The Prime Minister, for his part, rejected that claim and said his government has a plan in place to face the inflationary challenges that many countries are facing.
WATCH | Trudeau talks about record high inflation:
Lending rates were slashed to record lows in the early days of the pandemic to stimulate the economy. But two years of rock bottom mortgage rates have proven to be jet fuel for Canada’s housing market, causing many policy makers to suggest the time has come for the Bank of Canada to hike its rate to cool things down.
After Wednesday’s inflation report, investors think there’s about a 75 per cent chance of a rate hike as soon as next week, when the bank is set to meet.
“Inflation is likely to come down over the next year, but getting it there will require tighter financial conditions and rate hikes by the Bank of Canada,” Marple said.
Semiconductor shortage persists
And an ongoing lack of semiconductor microchips continues to drive up the price of just about anything with a microchip in it.
That includes durable goods like washing machines and other household appliances, the price of which have gone up by 5.7 per cent in the past 12 months. New car prices are up by even more — 7.2 per cent.
If there was one area of relief for consumers, it was gas prices, where the price to fill up at the pump fell by 4.1 per cent during the month. That’s the biggest monthly drop since April 2020. But compared to a year ago, gas prices are still 33 per cent higher than they were in December 2020.
Ellen DeGeneres makes her final entrance onto the Ellen Degeneres Show
Los Angeles, United States of America (USA)- Ellen DeGeneres yesterday made her final appearance on the Ellen Degeneres Show after 19 seasons.
The Ellen DeGeneres Show began back in September 2003 and has been host to various issues and people.
“Mary and Andy you have been with me since day one, and I am so grateful, I am so lucky that I have two executive producers that not only knew how to make a great show but make a great show for me because you understood me, you got me, you knew who was.
You have been with me for 25 years. We have been through everything together, 25 years, thick and thin. We have laughed, we have cried, you have been my constant source of support and love and I thank you. You are brilliant, you are talented, you are super smart, I admire you, I respect you, and I love you.
To all of you who have watched this show and supported me thank you so much for this platform and I hope that what I have been able to do over the last 19 years has made you happy and that I was able to take a little bit of pain away from a bad day or anything you are going through and I hope I have been able to inspire you to make other people happy and to do good in the world to feel like you have a purpose.
I have said it before and I will say it again if I have done anything in the past 19 years, I hope I have inspired you to be your true, authentic self and if someone is brave enough to tell you who they are, be brave enough to support them, even if you don’t understand. They are showing you who they are and that is the biggest gift anybody can ever give you, and by opening your heart and your mind, you are gonna be that much more compassionate and compassion is what makes the world a better place.
Thank you so much for being on this journey with me. I feel the love and I send it back to you. Bye,” said Ellen.
In May 2021, Ellen announced that the 19th season of her show would be her last. However, the show will continue to air new episodes with guest hosts and re-runs throughout the course of this year.
US maintains it does not support Taiwan independence, China hints at chopping hands
Washington DC, United States of America (USA)- Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, has reiterated that the country’s policy on Taiwan remains resolute.
Under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, the US recognizes but does not endorse, China’s sovereignty over Taiwan. While the act codifies the US’ one-China Policy, it also authorizes informal diplomatic relations with the government of Taiwan and allows Washington to provide Taipei with enough military support to enable Taiwan to maintain sufficient self-defence capabilities.
“In Taiwan, our approach has been consistent across decades and administrations. As the President has said, our policy has not changed. We do not support Taiwan’s independence, and we expect cross-strait differences to be resolved by peaceful means,” said Blinken.
However, Senior Colonel Wu Qian, spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of National Defense, has said some people in the US will have their hands chopped if they play the salami-slicing tactic in dealing with the Taiwan question.
“We want to make it clear to some people in the US that their hands will also be chopped off when they play the salami-slicing tactic in dealing with the Taiwan question. The People’s Liberation Army is ready to take all necessary measures to crush any form of Taiwan independence moves and to safeguard our national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The US has been continuously marginalizing and diminishing the one-China principle. It wants to use the salami-slicing tactic to play the Taiwan card to contain China and that is a complete illusion.
We request that the US stops disguising its own rules as international norms and promoting the US-style, hegemony-based order. It must accept China’s peaceful development with a rational, objective perspective, which is in the interest of Sino-US relations and the world’s peace and stability,” said the Senior Colonel.
BBC to layoff 1 000 staff workers
London, Britain- The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has revealed plans to layoff 1 000 of its staff within the coming few years.
According to the corporation, BBC World News and BBC News channels will merge to create a single 24-hour TV news channel serving both Britain and international audiences as part of the corporation’s wider plans.
Regional TV news programmes in Oxford and Cambridge are also among the services being scrapped merging with the BBC’s Southampton and Norwich operations.
BBC Four and Children’s BBC will no longer be aired as traditional broadcast channels after the next few years and will end as linear TV channels and are expected to move online to the iPlayer, while Radio 4 Extra could become available on the BBC Sounds service only.
According to Tim Davie, BBC’s Director-General, the layoffs will save at least £200 million (US$252 million) annually.
“When I took this job, I said that we needed to fight for something important, public service content and services freely available universally for the good of all. This fight is intensifying, the stakes are high.
Driven by the desire to make life and society better for our licence fee payers and customers in every corner of the UK (United Kingdom) and beyond. They want us to keep the BBC relevant and fight for something that in 2022 is more important than ever. To do that, we need to evolve faster and embrace the huge shifts in the market around us.
This is our moment to build a digital-first BBC. Something genuinely new, a Reithian organization for the digital age, a positive force for the UK and the world. Independent, impartial, constantly innovating and serving all. A fresh, new, global digital media organization which has never been seen before,” said Davie.
The move comes off the back of remarks made by Nadine Dorries, the Culture Secretary, in January, that the licence fee will be frozen at £159 (US$201) per annum for the next two years.
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