P.E.I. cities climbing ranks of most expensive in Canada

·2 min read
Charlottetown and Summerside have moved ahead of St. John's and Winnipeg in terms of cost of living. (Shane Hennessey/CBC - image credit)
Charlottetown and Summerside have moved ahead of St. John's and Winnipeg in terms of cost of living. (Shane Hennessey/CBC - image credit)

P.E.I.'s inflation, which for months has been the highest in Canada, is threatening to push Charlottetown and Summerside into the ranks of some of the most expensive cities in Canada.

Statistics Canada publishes an annual list comparing the cost of living in 14 cities, including two in the territories and 12 in the provinces. It uses an index, with an average of 100, to compare the relative costs in each city.

In 2017, P.E.I.'s cost of living index was 94. Only Saint John and Montreal were lower, at 92.

The most current year on Statistics Canada's comparative index is 2019, but CBC News used the published inflation rate in each of the cities to create its own comparative index to March of 2022.

It showed that P.E.I.'s cities could soon be the most expensive in Atlantic Canada.

Getting off oil

P.E.I.'s inflation rate is being driven higher than the national average by two main factors: rent and heating oil.

Since March, heating oil prices have climbed a lot higher. The maximum price at the end of March was $1.671. It is currently $2.145.

Summerside resident Hannah Alizadeh, who lives in an oil-heated house with Thane Simmons, is feeling the pinch.

"It's hard. I'm going to have two jobs this summer and we own a landscaping company at the same time," said Alizadeh.

Sheehan Desjardins/CBC
Sheehan Desjardins/CBC

"Last year we could barely afford oil. So this year, if it keeps jumping, we don't know."

The pair are planning to take out their furnace, install solar panels and heat with electricity.

Even before April's heating oil increases, P.E.I.'s increasing rate of inflation, up five per cent in the first three months of 2022, had pushed it ahead of St. John's and Winnipeg on the Canadian list.

Relative cost of living

Where P.E.I.'s cost of living had been four per cent below the average for provincial cities, in March it was just one point below average.

If the inflation on P.E.I. continues to pace ahead of the rest of the country the way it did in the first three months of 2022, the cost of living in the Island's cities will the fourth highest in the country by the end of the summer, behind Toronto, Vancouver and Ottawa-Gatineau.

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