Having a baby appears to have been the thing to do in 2012, with the province boasting its highest birth rate in a generation.
To date, the provincial government reports a total of 15,035 live births registered in Saskatchewan, representing 458 more babies than in 2011.
This is the highest birth rate since 1991, Information Services Corporation Minister Don McMorris noted in a press release.
The Prince Albert Parkland Health Region has played its role, maintaining a yearly average of about 1,500 births over the past few years.
“Our unit is fairly busy, and there are a lot of people from outside the region,” communications director Doug Dahl said.
Counting births using a fiscal year that begins on April 1, he notes that up to Dec. 31 they’ve counted 1,152 births at the Victoria Hospital.
This count represents about 50 more babies than during the same time period in 2011, Dahl explained, stretching the hospital's capacity. The maternity ward was initially built to manage 1,000 births per year and was last expanded in the late ’90s.
“We’ve made it easier to double up in rooms,” Dahl explained, noting that with constant ebbs and flows, they’ve been able to make due with what they have.
Local registered psychologist Gregory Reid said that there are many things that factor into couples’ decision to have children.
One factor that the Saskatchewan Party has latched itself onto is that better job and financial security lends itself to higher birth rates.
“People might be comfortable with their stability and their financial situations, whereby they can afford those larger families,” Reid said.
While some parents are satisfied to be able to provide their children with the basic needs, “Some might not be content just with basic needs,” he added.
“They might want to provide opportunity for children to take music lessons, dance class, karate class -- so, those might be factors.”
People might be comfortable with their stability and their financial situations, whereby they can afford those larger families. - Local registered psychologist Gregory Reid
Family sizes also vary over time, Reid said, suspecting that families of this generation are getting bigger.
“Because we’re post baby boom now, new parents now are coming from smaller families,” he said.
With many young adults coming from smaller families, they might have grown up “isolated, marginalized and lonely,” Reid noted.
“It’s something I’ve seen professionally, as a psychologist, but also personally, with my own family,” he added, noting that his mother had an older brother who was more an uncle than anything, which may have contributed to her growing up to have a large family of her own.
For some people, having lots of children can also be about religion or spiritual values, Reid said.
“Some people feel that’s a way to give back to the creator, to God, to society, by providing a stable home for children, and some people feel that it’s a moral responsibility to have children.”
For others, having children is not a choice, with many people having unplanned children. Reid suspects that some areas of the province might not have the same access to birth control or sexual education as others.
According to a government press release, the province's most popular boy’s name in 2012 was Liam, with 108 babies given the name. Ethan, Carter, William, Mason, Lucas, Noah and Hudson follow in descending order of popularity.
For girls, the most popular name in Saskatchewan was Emma, with 80 children given this name. Emma is followed by Olivia, Ava, Emily, Brooklyn, Lily and Sophia and Abigail.
Prince Albert’s New Year’s baby, born at 9:44 a.m. on Jan. 1, was named Heavyn, proving a unique name. Heavyn is not included in the top 20 female names of 2012