10/17/2014 03:39 EDT | Updated 12/17/2014 05:59 EST

Climbing Meat Prices Could Increase Alberta 'Food Insecurity,' Says Economist

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A Calgary economist says the number of people in Alberta facing what he calls "food insecurity" is likely to grow as the cost of living in the province and across the country continues to rise.

Statistics Canada released its September Consumer Price Index on Friday — which adds up the cost of an average grocery cart of items to measure the cost of living — and it showed everything across Canada is becoming more expensive.

Price of meat saw the biggest jump nationwide with an increase of 11.5 per cent over last September. Those meat prices alone drove the overall inflation rate in the province up by 0.3 percentage points.

Herb Emery, with the University of Calgary School of Public Policy, says this news will hit one group the hardest — unskilled workers.

“We have probably around 10 to 12 per cent of Albertans who I believe are either worried about going without food or [are] going without food due to a lack of money,” he said.

Emery says while there is a lot of talk about a squeeze on the middle class, it's unskilled workers who particularly face the added challenges of rent increases and an expected jump in energy costs this winter.

As well, Alberta wasn't alone in seeing a rising cost of living last month.

According to the data, the overall inflation rate increased in every province across the country, with Ontario and Alberta seeing the biggest gains.


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