OTTAWA -- Inflation in Canada remained cool last month at 1.3 per cent as stubbornly low energy prices continued to weigh down the annual rate.
The March inflation reading from Statistics Canada followed a 1.4 per cent year-over-year increase in February.
The agency's latest consumer price index says its headline inflation rate remained below the Bank of Canada's two per cent target, largely due to a drop in prices for gasoline, fuel oil and natural gas.
Clothing and transportation were the only areas where prices have fallen, while food and alcohol prices are leading price gains, thanks to a lower loonie that means higher import costs. (Chart: StatsCan)
Those downward forces countered higher prices for shelter and food -- particularly for fresh vegetables and fresh fruit.
Overall food prices were up 3.6 per cent year over year in March, after rising 3.9 per cent in February. Fresh vegetables were up 14.9 per cent over the past year, while fresh fruit was up 11.3 per cent, StatsCan said.
Meat prices rose 3.2 per cent, their largest increase since last November.
British Columbia and Ontario lead inflation growth in Canada. These places are also leading job growth and house price growth. (Chart: StatsCan)
The core inflation rate, which excludes some of the most volatile items such as pump prices, rose to 2.1 per cent last month after a 1.9 per cent reading in February.
Inflation was lower in eight provinces in March compared with the previous month, leaving Alberta and British Columbia as the only ones that saw a higher rate.
-- With a file from The Huffington Post Canada