The doctor wants in for NDP
Sick Kids' Robert Hilliard will try his hand in October's provincial election
Pediatrician Robert Hilliard has decided the best way to advocate for children, youth and families is to become a player in the provincial political scene.
The past president of the Canadian Paediatric Society is running as the NDP candidate in Don Valley East in the upcoming provincial election, vying to fill the shoes of retiring Liberal MPP David Caplan.
“I’m willing to listen to any kind of people’s thoughts or suggestions or comments and I hope as the MPP for this area to again be hardworking, honest, responsible and open to people,” Hilliard says.
Born in China, Hilliard grew up in Saskatchewan while Tommy Douglas was premier and says he’s been an NDP supporter for a long time.
“I’m very much a social democrat,” he says.
Two weeks after marrying his wife Jean, a nurse practitioner, the couple went to Kenya on their honeymoon and stayed in Africa working as a medical team with church hospitals.
Six years later, they returned to Toronto, and Hilliard has been working at the Hospital for Sick Children and living in the Don Mills community for the last 33 years.
A father of two, Sunday school teacher and concert band trombonist, he plays hockey every week in winter at the Forest Hill Memorial Arena.
“I’m a real Canadian and I still play hockey at 68 years of age,” he says proudly.
Despite the trend that saw the riding’s Liberal incumbent Yasmin Ratansi lose her seat to Conservative Joe Daniel in May’s federal election, Hilliard says the NDP has a shot.
“I think our riding is really quite wide open for any possibilities,” he says.
His party is proposing to make life more affordable for families, he says, by cutting the HST on hydro and home heating and starting to remove it from gas, and by freezing local public transit fares.
Healthcare needs to be improved, too, he says.
The NDP wants to see more family health care clinics and reduce hospital wait times, as well as better long-term care and support for seniors aging at home, he says.
“Honestly I don’t know that there’s any real health professional human resources plan that the government has as to looking at how many doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners we need and how to encourage more and encourage them to work where there are needs,” he says.
With a high population of recent immigrants in the riding, Hilliard says there’s a need to improve the process of reviewing qualifications and providing additional Canadian training.
“We would make sure that the services for new immigrants, whether it’s orientation, culture, language, could be provided by provincial sources,” he says.
Hilliard emphasizes that contrary to popular belief, the NDP have a good handle on the economy.
“People always think that the NDP are into spending and spending and spending, but in fact I think our NDP proposals are very fiscally responsible,” he says.
The party’s economic policy would increase government revenue by removing some tax breaks for large corporations, he says.
“More jobs are actually produced by small businesses,” he says. “So we would provide tax credits and encouragement for small businesses to invest locally and to create jobs.”
If elected as MPP, Hilliard says he hopes to be open to people while remembering his priorities.
“And I will always put children and youth and families first in all of the kind of work I do, I’ve done this in my whole life putting children, youth and families first.”
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