Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) has embarked on an unprecedented fundraising campaign to raise $1.3 billion to equipment a new hospital. The oldest parts of the hospital are almost 70 years old, with ceiling heights that can’t accommodate robotic technology or hold the weight of MRI machines. Patient areas are cramped and much of the hospital lacks natural light.

“It’s incredible because every single day amazing things happen at SickKids and they continue to happen at SickKids; some of the best care in the world, some of the top research in the world,” said Dr. Lennox Huang, chief medical officer and a pediatric intensive care unit physician.

“The reality is, though, the building that we live in was built in 1949. And when you think about what 1949 is, that’s not 20th-century care.”

The Ontario government has earmarked $2.4 billion to build the shell of a new building, but all the equipment, research infrastructure and furnishings must be funded through donations. This will be the largest hospital fundraising campaign in Canadian history.

SickKids has embarked on a new phase of its fundraising campaign with a series of edgy, backlit ads starring Canadian actor Colm Feore. Inspired by a rousing battle scene in Shakespeare’s Henry V, SickKids VS: Join Your Crew urges people to unite in their own tribes ¬ – the “Cyclists,” the “Dog People,” the “Lefties,” the “Chefs” – to raise funds.

The decade-long hospital transformation will be an “incredible challenge,” says Huang, because it means rebuilding on the same downtown footprint while still delivering patient care and research.

“We can’t just start building today on an empty lot. We are going to have to take down some of the buildings bit by bit, step by step and make sure the care of our children is not compromised.”