Saturday, May 28, 2011

New Toyota Plant in Canada because of Canada Health Act?

Earlier this week, on  On Point with Tom Ashbrook, NPR's flagship public affairs radio program from WBUR Boston, the topic was a stirring of revitalization in the American manufacturing sector.
A new Volkswagen plant opened on that day in Tennessee, according to the Host. And what caught my ear were the words from the mouth of Susan R. Helper, a faculty member at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland Ohio, that because of the Canadian Health Care System, universal public access with a single payer, Toyota has recently decided to build a new plant in Canada, as opposed to the U.S.
The importance, for Toyota, of the publicly funded Canada Health Act, as compared with the U.S., is that Toyota does not have to pay for health care costs for their employees, who will indirectly pay for it through their taxes, based on their income. Ironic that this piece of news, which I may have missed in the Canadian coverage, reaches a Canadian audience via a publicly funded radio network in the U.S. the most capitalist country in the world.
Interestingly, the Canadian press is either not familiar with this piece of information or the editors have back-paged it, for fear of sounding too supportive as the Canadian population seems to be shifting "right" and, led by the "conservative" forces like the think tanks and the federal Conservative Party, aligned with the corporate interests, moving toward a two-tier health care system where the rich buy their superior service and the rest of us take what's left over. Negotiations for funding the system between the provinces who operate the system and the federal government which "funds" the syste, are to be completed in a new round of discussions, by 2014.
Supporters of the current single payer system which theoretically provides universal access, like your current scribe, will need information like the piece from Ms Helper that it is the health care system in Canada that won the competition for a new Toyota manufacturing facility, over the U.S.
If that is true, and I cannot find any information on the Toyota Canada website to confirm, then there are undoubtedly more manufacturing companies, perhaps even more auto manufacturing companies who would make a similar decision, if they knew all the facts.
Where are the agents of such organizations as the United Auto Workers (Canadian Auto Workers) Union in the telling of this story, even though the current and potential workers at Toyota may not be members of any union? Where are the provincial government ministers responsible for economic development in the business of lobbying global auto manufacturers to bring new plants to Canada....this would seem to be a significant cornerstone for their arguments in favour of their provinces.
Canada has a signfiicant unemployment issue. Ontario specifically has a significant need for more jobs especially in the manufacturing sector. There is a provincial election in Ontario in October and surely if one or more of the three parties seeking to form a government could announce either this piece of information, or additional news from other auto companies, both the province and the specific municipality where the factory will be built would be both grateful and relieved.
We already know that Canadian workers have proven themselves in the quality of their work. Toyota and Honda both have established factories in Ontario. And with the announcement from General Motors that they are moving the assembly of their Impala from Oshawa, Ontario to Detriot, there will be 2000 jobs lost just from the Oshawa plant alone.
Why did Volkewagen announce "for Tennessee"? Was it because of the tax breaks available, over the Canadian offer? Were they fully apprised of the benefits of the Canadian Health Act? Did they fully research the Canadian opportunity?
Where will Hyundai and Subaru and the Cooper Mini build their next factory? Will it also be in Canada?
If not, why not?

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