TORONTO - Canadians need to stand on guard against creating two Canadas when it comes to health care - one for the rich and one for the poor, documentary filmmaker Michael Moore said Tuesday.
Instead, Moore warned, Canadians seem to be on a misguided quest to become more like Americans when it comes to health-care insurance.
"It's not that you need to become more like America," Moore said.
"America needs to become more like you. We need to become more Canadian-like."
While Canada's universal health-care system has its problems, they are nothing like the crisis thrust on Americans who are forced to choose between bankruptcy and seeking medical treatment, the unabashed leftist said.
Canadians do not die or lose their homes because they cannot afford medical treatment, a situation millions of Americans face now and will continue to face, he said.
"A hospital will hire a foreclosure company to go after someone's home and have them thrown out on the curb because they haven't paid the hospital bill," he said.
"Something is seriously wrong with this."
Moore made the comments as keynote speaker at the HealthAchieve 2009 conference and exhibition.
According to a Harvard study, he said, 46,000 Americans die every year simply because they can't get health insurance.
At the same time, he said, private clinics that allowed Canadians with money to get H1N1 flu shots ahead of others were an example of the backward step Canada is taking when it comes to universal access to health care.
"What's going on here? What's happening to you? Why do you want to be like us?"
"In your desire to do it the American way, you then create two Canadas. You're going to drift away from this basic core principle: We're all in the same boat, and we sink or swim together," he said to rousing applause.
The packed, appreciative hall in the cavernous Metro Convention Centre filled alternately with laughter and silence as Moore, renowned for works such as "Bowling for Columbine" and "Sicko," spoke.
Occasionally pushing at his ball cap, Moore took direct aim at President Barack Obama's health-care bill now before the U.S. Congress.
The law, which would mandate that every American buy health insurance, would only enrich medical and drug companies to the tune of billions of dollars while doing little to ensure all Americans have low-cost access to medical care, he said.
"Thirteen million people will still not have health insurance in the United States," Moore said.
The vitriolic debate over the bill in the States has also resulted in fear-mongering and disinformation regarding Canada's system that has resonated with many Americans ignorant of the situation north of the border.
Moore urged Canadians not to allow the falsehoods to go unchecked.
"Do something to tell Americans what it's really like up here," he said.
"Don't just sit back and go, 'That's not our problem, that's your problem.' We're all in this together."