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Consumer Price Index, March 2018

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Released: 2018-04-20

Consumer Price Index

March 2018

2.3% increase

(12-month change)

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 2.3% on a year-over-year basis in March, following a 2.2% increase in February. This was the largest year-over-year increase since October 2014. Excluding gasoline, the CPI increased 1.8%, matching the gain in February.

Chart 1  Chart 1: The 12-month change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and the CPI excluding gasoline
The 12-month change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and the CPI excluding gasoline

12-month change in the components

Seven of eight major components increased on a year-over-year basis in March. The clothing and footwear index (-0.1%) was the lone major component to decline year over year.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Consumer prices increase in seven of eight major components
Consumer prices increase in seven of eight major components

For the second consecutive month, energy prices rose more on a year-over-year basis. Gasoline prices were 17.1% higher compared with March 2017, and were the largest contributor to the gain in energy prices.

The price of services was up 2.7% year over year in March. Passenger vehicle insurance premiums rose 1.4% in the 12 months to March. Recent interest rate increases continue to impact the mortgage interest cost index (+2.8%), which posted its eighth consecutive year-over-year rise.

Consumers paid less on a year-over-year basis for food in March (+1.7%) than they did in February (+2.1%). Prices for fresh vegetables (-2.1%) and meat (-0.4%) fell month over month.

Prices for durable goods increased 0.3% in the 12 months to March, following a larger gain in February (+0.6%). The purchase of passenger vehicles index declined 1.5% on a month-over-month basis in March, reflecting higher rebates reported for various 2018 model-year vehicles.

12-month change in the provinces

Prices rose more on a year-over-year basis in four provinces in March when compared with the previous month. The rate of growth was strongest in Ontario, where consumer prices for passenger vehicle insurance premiums rose 1.3% year over year, following a 0.6% decline in February. Gasoline was a large contributor to the price change in all provinces, but prices increased at the fastest rate in Alberta.

Chart 3  Chart 3: Consumer prices rise at a faster rate in four provinces
Consumer prices rise at a faster rate in four provinces

Seasonally adjusted monthly Consumer Price Index

On a seasonally adjusted monthly basis, the CPI rose 0.1% in March, following a 0.2% increase in February. Four of eight major components rose, with the alcoholic beverages and tobacco products index (+0.9%) rising the most, following an increase in the federal tax on cigarettes. The clothing and footwear index (-0.6%) registered the largest decline.

Chart 4  Chart 4: Seasonally adjusted monthly Consumer Price Index
Seasonally adjusted monthly Consumer Price Index

  Note to readers

Publication of additional sub-indexes

On April 20, 2018, with the release of the March Consumer Price Index (CPI), Statistics Canada published additional CPI sub-indexes providing an increased level of detail at lower levels of aggregation which are available in CANSIM tables 326-0020 and 326-0021.

Methodological change: Air Transportation Index

The release of the March 2018 CPI marks the introduction of new travel destinations and a change in the data sources used to compile the air transportation index.

The air transportation index represents 1.24% of the 2015 CPI basket at link month (December 2016) prices and is part of Transportation, one of the major CPI components.

Beginning with the March 2018 CPI release, the coverage of the air transportation index has increased from 18 to 53 city-pairs. A city-pair combines a Canadian city within the province of residence of a consumer, with the final destination of the consumer.

Collecting Airfare Prices

The new approach replaces administrative data with airfare prices collected on the Internet. Prices are now collected for round trips, with considerations given to advanced booking and trip length.

These changes are expected to better reflect seasonal patterns in the cost of air transportation experienced by Canadians. Users should note that changing methodological elements of any index may result in variations in the series. As such, interpretation of the 12-month price change indicator should be made with caution, particularly in the year following the implementation of a new methodology.

Real-time CANSIM tables

Real-time CANSIM table 326-8023 will be updated on May 7. For more information, consult the document Real-time CANSIM tables.

Next release

The CPI for April will be released on May 18.


The March 2018 issue of The Consumer Price Index, Vol. 97, no. 3 (Catalogue number62-001-X) is now available.

More information about the concepts and use of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is available in The Canadian Consumer Price Index Reference Paper (Catalogue number62-553-X).

For information on the history of the CPI in Canada, consult the publication Exploring the First Century of Canada's Consumer Price Index (Catalogue number62-604-X).

Two videos, "An Overview of Canada's Consumer Price Index (CPI)" and "The Consumer Price Index and Your Experience of Price Change," are available on Statistics Canada's YouTube channel.

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; or Media Relations (613-951-4636;

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