Protesters gathered nearby RIH Wednesday called for the prime minister to join Canada's premiers in improving health care.
The National Day of Action was promoted by local chapters of Council of Canadians and B.C. Health Coalition. Kamloops councillor Donovan Cavers was among about 25 people gathered, listening to speeches and carrying signs. New Democrat candidate Tom Friedman was also on hand.
The rally was intended to push for renewed federal involvement in health care. In its latest budget the federal Conservative government indicated it would no longer fund annual six per cent increases to provinces for health care.
Instead, it will tie increases to economic growth — typically two or three per cent a year. That's setting provinces up for a shortfall.
"We're starting a fight for the future of public health care, along with other communities in B.C.," said Anita Strong, who heads the local chapter of the Council of Canadians.
Other communities where rallies were planned Wednesday include Vancouver, Victoria, Kelowna, Sechelt and Campbell River.
Strong said B.C.'s premiers are gathering next week in Halifax to discuss the future of health care across the country, a meeting at which Prime Minister Stephen Harper must attend "and take a leadership position."
"The federal government is turning its back."
Rick Turner, a local leader of the B.C. Health Coalition, said health care spending is sustainable and demanded by Canadians.
"With medicare you're covered. You don't have to go begging in the streets to get essential care to stay healthy. You don't need to go bankrupt to stay healthy."
The rally also featured a skit with a begging woman who is helped by passersby, with red umbrellas opened to reveal the words "we've got you covered." The Raging Grannies also performed satirical songs.
Turner called on Premier Christy Clark to publicly pressure Harper to attend the meeting and fund demands on the system. He also said Ottawa has reneged on a promise to fund a national pharmacare program that would cut costs of prescription drugs.