In Ontario, it was a year that was all about the Benjamins – for parents of newborn baby boys, at least.
Benjamin was the most commonly chosen name for Ontarians who became parents in 2016, whether for the first time or once again, according to the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services. For five consecutive years, Liam was at the top of the list, a name which in 2016 fell to the No. 2 spot. Rounding out the top five baby names among boys were Noah at No.3, Ethan in the No. 4 position and Lucas at No. 5.
For girls, it was more of the same, as each of the top five that were in the 2015 list were in the same positions in 2016. For the ninth straight year, for instance, Olivia was the most commonly selected name for girls among Ontario parents, the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services found. Second to Olivia was Emma, followed by Charlotte, Ava and Sophia completing the most frequent five.
The MGCP noted that the rather regal flair to the most recent list of top names for girls – not to mention the previous one – is likely the result of the drama series "The Crown," which airs on Netflix and debuted in November 2016 to rave reviews, both from television critics as well as household viewers.
Parents can apply for birth certificate online
The annual list comes from ServiceOntario, an initiative created by the provincial legislature, designed to provide local residents with a seamless way to access government services. Through ServiceOntario's 4-in-1 bundle, parents can register their child's name online, and obtain his or her proper identification materials, such as their birth certificate, and social insurance number.
Tracy MacCharles, minister of government and consumer services, noted that the online registry was designed to give stressed-out moms and dads something that is quick and simple.
"Life as a new parent can be overwhelming," MacCharles stated in a news release. "ServiceOntario is making it easier for new parents to access the services they need, through the 4-in-1 Bundle. Parents can register their newborns quickly, securely and easily so that they can get back to what's important – caring for their newborns."
Canada's birth rate continues descent
Though Canada's overall population is on the rise, the birth rate has consistently declined, tracing back to the mid 1960s. In 1971, for example, there were 2.1 children per woman, according to data maintained by Statistics Canada. The rate has since dropped to 1.61 children per woman. Forty-six years ago was the last time enough children were being born in Canada for the population to replace itself, not including migration trends.
Not only are fewer women having children of their own, but they're also becoming parents at a later age in life. In the early 20th century, the average age was 30 years, according to Statistics Canada. That has since slightly risen to 30.2 years, which is the oldest age on record. From the 1950s through most of the 1970s, the typical age at childbirth for women in Canada slipped rather consistently, dropping to 26.7 years by the mid-1970s from around 29.3 in the 1950s.
Although there are likely numerous explanations for why Canadians are opting to have fewer children and when they're a bit older, social scientists chalk up the reasoning to both social and legislative changes. For example, Statistics Canada references how in the 1960s, contraception became more effective, affordable and widely available. Additionally, more women entered the workforce, which corresponded with fewer births.