Do the residents of Nunavut really pay a lot when compared to the rest of Canada?
The numbers coming out of Nunavut last week were staggering: $14 for two litres of milk; $19.29 for a jug of orange juice; $104.99 for one measly case of water. It’s no wonder residents have taken to protesting, crying out over the high prices for food.
In Nunavut, food is expensive, but how much does it cost in the rest of the country? With data from Statistics Canada, here’s how food prices stack up among the nation’s provinces and territories.
* StatsCan data current as of the latest comprehensive nationwide survey, conducted in 2009.
Amount of annual household budget spent on food: 9.1%
The average Saskatchewan household forks over $6,344 per year for food. Of that, 24 per cent is spent at restaurants, a higher amount than the national average.
Amount of annual household budget spent on food: 9.2%
Albertan households spend $84,980 per year on consumer goods, the most of any province in the country. Out of this large overall amount, spending on food is just a blip on the radar. Alberta households spend $7,570 on food each year — the most among Canadian provinces — though that accounts for just over nine per cent of total consumption.
Amount of annual household budget spent on food: 9.5%
Each year, Ontario households spend $7,284 on food, with $1,645 of that doled out at the province’s restaurants. That’s only $137 a month at diners and eateries, on average, but it’s also the third-highest such mark in the entire country.
Amount of annual household budget spent on food: 9.8%
In theory, Manitobans should all be sleek and slender. According to Statistics Canada, the average Manitoba household spends just $6,520 on food annually, the third-lowest amount in the country. Amazingly, the residents of one of Canada’s territories (you’ll read about them soon) is forced to spend more than double what Manitobans do each year on food.
9. British Columbia
Amount of annual household budget spent on food: 10.3%
British Columbians must be the most social people in Canada. That, or they don’t like to cook. The average B.C. household spends $1,818 in restaurants each year, according to Stats Canada, the highest total in the entire country.
Amount of annual household budget spent on food: 10.7%
Yukon is the one territory that doesn’t have ‘territory’ food prices. Unlike Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, many items, like those spotted in this recent Whitehorse Shoppers Drug Mart flyer, cost just as little in Yukon as they would across the rest of the country. The average Yukon household spends less than $7,500 on food each year, fewer than what households in provinces like B.C. and Alberta do.
7. New Brunswick
Amount of annual household budget spent on food: 10.9%
The average New Brunswick household spends just $6,691 per year on food. But then, when your household spending totals just $61,210 — one of the lower marks in the country — that $6,691 makes up nearly 11 per cent of total annual spending.
6. Nova Scotia
Amount of annual household budget spent on food: 11.0%
The amount Nova Scotians spend on food, just under $6,700 per year, might seem like a lot, but in fact food spending is below average by a number of measures. Total food spending in Nova Scotia is less than the national average ($7,262), as is what Nova Scotian households spend at grocery stores ($5,273, compared to the national average of $5,658) and restaurants ($1,369, compared to the national average of $1,577).
5. Newfoundland and Labrador
Amount of annual household budget spent on food: 11.3%
Households in Newfoundland and Labrador might not spend the least each year on food but the eastern province does hold one distinction. Newfoundland and Labrador households spend just over a grand each year ($1,001) at restaurants, the lowest mark in the country by more than $250.
4. Northwest Territories
Amount of annual household budget spent on food: 11.5%
Households in the Northwest Territories spend over $9,500 per year on food, which is 31 per cent more than what Ontario households spend. But even though NWT food costs are the second-highest in Canada, the territory falls just fourth on this list thanks to a high total household spending ($82,970 each year, the country’s third-highest amount).
3. Prince Edward Island
Amount of annual household budget spent on food: 11.8%
If you told a family in, say, Quebec or B.C. that yours only spends $6,720 on food each year, they’d say you must be able to retire at 40. But in P.E.I., where total food spending is low, residents are not necessarily enjoying the good life. P.E.I. households spend just $56,900 in total on consumer goods each year, the lowest rate in all of Canada.
Amount of annual household budget spent on food: 12.0%
The cost of food takes up 12 per cent of the average Quebec household’s yearly spending, which is the second-highest rate in Canada. But such a mark seems to be the effect of low overall household spending, not high food prices. Quebec households spend $7,215 per year on food, less than the national average; however, they spend just $60,120 on total consumer goods each year, the fourth-lowest rate in the country.
Amount of annual household budget spent on food: 17.5%
The loudest protests over Canadian food prices come from Nunavut. While Nunavut households spend $84,440 on consumer goods each year (the highest amount in Canada), food is by far the greatest drain on the resources of the territory’s consumers. Nunavut households are forced to spend $14,815 on food each year, more than double what households in eight provinces (Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, P.E.I. and Newfoundland and Labrador) need to feed themselves.