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B.C. tops the list of the most expensive provinces in Canada: study

Office towers, hotels and condos are seen in downtown Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

A year from the next provincial election, the skyrocketing cost of living and what to do about it is setting up to be a big challenge for all politicians.

According to a new analysis of publicly available data done by insurance company Westland, B.C. tops the list when it comes to the cost of buying or renting a place to live, flights, public transportation, going to the dentist, buying clothes and a night at a hotel.

The soaring cost of living dominated debate in the B.C. legislature on Monday.

“Families can’t even afford the essentials anymore under this NDP government,” Renee Merrifield, the BC United MLA for Kelowna-Mission said.

She said she received a letter from a constituent about how getting a raise at work doesn’t even mean disposable income anymore.

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“This is the farthest from reality,” Merrifield said. “It doesn’t even cover the increased cost of fuel, let alone the rising cost of everything else.”

Click to play video: 'Political battle heats up over home heating'
Political battle heats up over home heating

Sheila Malcomson, the B.C. minister of social development and poverty reduction, said global inflation has hit everyone around the world, with some of it beyond anyone’s control.

“What we can control, though, is income supports in people’s pockets, which is why we have increased the minimum wage, which is why we’ve increased social assistance rates while we’ve invested in child care,” she said.

The study considered 55 contributing factors, sorted into seven categories and each assigned a score of 10, including income, property prices, rent, bills, food, transport, health and personal care, and other lifestyle costs. Each score was weighted to produce the ranking, with the final score out of 100:

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  • British Columbia – 79
  • Ontario – 71
  • Alberta – 67
  • Manitoba – 61
  • Saskatchewan – 60
  • Nova Scotia – 56
  • New Brunswick – 55.4
  • Quebec – 55.2
  • Prince Edward Island – 51
  • Newfoundland and Labrador – 20

“Data from Statistics Canada shows that British Columbia has the highest cost of living in Canada, and Newfoundland and Labrador has the lowest,” a spokesperson said in a release.

“It’s clear that the two most expensive provinces have exceptionally high house prices, but general living costs tend to be higher, too. British Columbia ranked among the top three most expensive provinces in every category, except accommodation, bills, and utilities expenses, where it placed fourth.”

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