THUNDER BAY – As food prices and gas prices continue to rise, the impact on consumers in the region is less disposable income. Gasoline prices across Thunder Bay are ranging over $1.33.9 for a litre of regular fuel. Grocery prices have risen as well.
Prices in Thunder Bay are not as high as in communities further to the north where a three-pound bag of apples can be $15, or where fresh healthy food prices are double to triple what they are in the city.
Rising food and gas prices have packed a wallop for Ontario consumers, with 51 per cent saying the new expenses have had a significant impact on their budget – the highest impact in Canada – according to the March 2011 RBC Canadian Consumer Outlook Index (RBC CCO). Job anxiety has also risen in the province, with 28 per cent reporting worries about themselves or someone in their household losing their job or being laid off, up five per cent since last quarter and well above the national average of 22 per cent.
While there are immediate concerns, Ontarians are still optimistic when looking to the future, with 44 per cent expecting the Canadian economy to improve over the next year, slightly higher than national expectations (42 per cent). The province’s overall outlook index also rose this quarter by six points to 85 points.
“Unexpected costs can arise at any time, which makes it a good idea to visit a financial planner whenever conditions change,” said Jeff Boyd, regional president, Ontario North and East, RBC. “In this way, you can get a better idea of how to adjust your budget so that you can manage debt and day-to-day costs, while still being able to put money aside for future needs.”
Meanwhile, the Ontario economy is expected to see its best performance since 2002, with real GDP forecast to grow by 3.1 per cent, according to the latest Economic Outlook from RBC Economics. “Conditions in Ontario are expected to continue to improve this year, allowing the province to complete its recovery and move into an expansion cycle,” said Craig Wright, senior vice-president and chief economist, RBC.