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Single Payer, West Virginia and Ontario

Mr. Tweddle’s Factory

by RUSSELL MOKHIBER

Allan Tweddle wants to build a manufacturing facility.

He would prefer to build it in West Virginia — where he lives.

But he’s going to build it in Ontario, Canada — where he was born.

Why?

Well, one factor is health care costs.

Canada has a single payer system.

You go to a doctor.

You present your medical card.

No bills. No deductibles. No co-pays.

They swipe your card and that’s it.

“Health care in Canada is paid by personal income taxes,” Tweddle says. “Instead of paying premiums to a profit driven insurance company, you pay it through your personal taxes and then the government provides universal health care.”

From a businessman’s perspective, health care costs are 20 percent cheaper in Canada than in the United States.

There are many other factors that were on the checklist that Tweddle went down before deciding to locate his facility in Ontario.

Education, the corporate tax rate (18 percent in Canada compared to 35 percent in the United States), federal government incentives.

“It was a no brainer,” Tweddle said.

Tweddle is chairman of the board of a company called Composite Transport Technologies.

He says the company will be producing a new technology for aircraft that will reduce the carbon footprint of those planes and save on fuel costs.

Tweddle is disappointed that he wasn’t able to decide to build the manufacturing facility in West Virginia, where he lives with his wife Barbara.

He says he could have built the facility in the Bridgeport/Clarksburg area where there is an airplane industrial cluster — including manufacturers Pratt & Whitney, Bombardier and Lockheed. (Tweddle says fully 30 percent of Lockheed’s C-130 transport plane is built in Clarksburg.)

Health care costs were one factor weighing against West Virginia.

Another factor was the education system.

He says West Virginia has one of the worst education systems and Ontario has one of the best.

“When you try to recruit young people to come and work for you, they ask about the education system,” Tweddle said.

Again, a no brainer.

Canada’s single payer system and education system are two good reasons more automobiles are being built in Ontario than in Michigan, he says.

“Several auto company executives are now saying publicly the reasons they are building in Ontario are health care costs and education,” Tweddle reports.

Why don’t American business groups come out for single payer?

“Many are for it,” Tweddle says.

Tweddle says that earlier this year, he was speaking with Steve Roberts, president of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce.

“And he told me he was for a single payer system,” Tweddle said. “I”m not sure his board is for it, but he’s for it.”

Tweddle is not happy with the level of debate in the United States over the health care system.

“During the debate over Obamacare, the conservative Prime Minister of Canada — Stephen Harper — and the conservative prime minister of the UK — David Cameron — both said — not in these exact words — but they both said — stop lying about our system — we will never go back to the system you have in the United States for anything.”

Russell Mokhiber edits Single Payer Action.