Manitoba's cost of living remains low but is increasing rapidly

    WINNIPEG, Oct. 10 /CNW/ - Manitoba has the lowest cost of living but saw
the highest increase in this indicator in western Canada over the past year,
according to the MB Check-Up, an annual economic analysis of the province as a
place to live, work and invest by the Chartered Accountants of Manitoba.
    "This increase reflects higher shelter costs rather than an overall
increase in total household spending," said Gary Hannaford, CEO of the
Institute of Chartered Accountants of Manitoba.
    Manitoba's cost of living, defined in the study as the percentage of
total household expenditures spent on shelter, is 17.2 per cent.
    The average house price in Manitoba went up 12.6 per cent in 2007, the
third-highest increase in the country last year after Saskatchewan (32.0 per
cent) and Alberta (24.8 per cent). Price escalation continued through the
first half of 2008 as demand remained high and housing supply tight. Between
2007 and May 2008, Manitoba's average house price increased by 20.4 per cent.
    "Manitoba has the distinction of having the most affordable housing.
However, there can be no denying that Manitoba's affordability has
deteriorated as a result of higher housing costs," Hannaford said. "Given the
disparity in both shelter and total household costs spent in Manitoba relative
to the other provinces though, there is room to buffer these gains," he added.
    In 2006, a standard two-storey home in Manitoba required 34.1 per cent of
an average family income or a qualifying income of $53,295 per year. This
increased to 36.1 per cent or $60,412 per year in 2007.
    The MB Check-Up also shows that Manitobans' debt (both personal and
mortgage) to disposable income ratio rose 3.1 per cent last year. Last year's
increase was almost equally due to rising mortgage (8.9 per cent) and personal
debt (8.7 per cent).
    The study also finds that Manitoba slipped back into last place with the
lowest disposable income ($24,859) last year, despite having the second
highest increase (3.6 per cent) in disposable income after Saskatchewan (5.0
per cent).
    "This was the largest increase in a decade and exceeded the national
average for the first time in the last ten years," Hannaford said. "However,
Manitoba continues to have the lowest personal disposable income out of the
districts reviewed," he added.
    Over the past five years, Manitoba's growth in real per capita disposable
income (9.3 per cent) was the lowest of the western provinces and only
exceeded that of Ontario (5.2 per cent). The gap between Manitoba's real
disposable income per capita and the national average has widened slightly
from $1,943 in 2002 to $2,103 in 2007.
    The Live section of MB Check-Up also shows that health care spending was
in line with the other provinces and that Manitoba recorded the highest
percentage of youth at risk (13.5 per cent), or those aged 19 to 24 without
high school accreditation.
    MB Check-Up is published annually by the Chartered Accountants of
Manitoba and provides an independent factual comparison of the four Western
provinces, together with Ontario and the Canadian average using 15 key
indicators to create a profile of each as a place to live, a place to work and
a place to invest. The third section of the report which deals with Manitoba
as a place to work will be released next week.

    With more than 2,700 members and over 300 CA students, the Institute of
Chartered Accountants of Manitoba carries out its primary mission to protect
the public by ensuring that its members have the highest level of competence
and integrity as a result of demanding standards for admission to the
profession, its continuous learning policy and its inspection and discipline
processes. Thanks to the quality and rigor of their education and training,
CAs bring superior financial expertise, strategic thinking, business insight
and leadership to every organization.

For further information:

For further information: Tanya Beck, Manager of Communications, p: (204)
924-4416, e:

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