Apparently I’m not the only one to have noticed the sometimes shockingly higher prices for consumer goods when you cross the border from the U.S. into Canada as finance minister Jim Flaherty has also seen the disparity as detailed in this story at Reuters.
Canada’s finance minister says he is irritated that retail prices are higher in Canada than in the United States despite the country’s strong currency, and wants a parliamentary committee to investigate the matter.
In a letter sent on Tuesday to the Canadian Senate Committee on National Finance, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty suggested he would repeat a 2007 drive in which he publicly pressured retailers to lower their prices in light of a sharp Canadian currency appreciation that he said should have eliminated the price gap.
“Canadians are rightly irritated when they see large price discrepancies on the exact same products being sold on different sides of the border,” Flaherty wrote in the letter, obtained by Reuters on Wednesday.
Flaherty’s bid to stop the flow of shoppers to malls just south of the border is aimed at boosting consumer spending after the Canadian economy contracted in the second quarter.
Consumer spending has been relatively healthy in Canada, even during the recession, but economists predict it will be more subdued in the rest of this year as confidence slips.
What was interesting about our recent trip is that the first stop we made after we crossed into Alberta was at the Calgary Costco where many of the same items sold at our local store were also available there. With only a few exceptions, prices were sharply higher.
You expect that high-tax items like gasoline and alcohol would be much dearer north of the border, but it seemed like just about everything was 10, 20 percent higher or more. Of course, it took me a little while to figure out that ribeyes were $22 per kilogram, not per pound, so it wasn’t quite as bad as it first seemed.