Connect with us

Buzz

France’s Macron vows to ‘do better’ amid ‘yellow vest’ protests | France News

Editor

Published

on

[ad_1]

The French government “can do better” at improving the lives the country’s citizens, President Emmanuel Macron has said in his highly-anticipated New Year’s Eve address as “yellow vest” protesters again took to the streets in parts of the country.

“We can do better and must do better,” Macron said in a 16-minute televised speech from the Elysee palace on Monday.

But the 41-year-old centrist also struck an unapologetic note as he urged voters to to “accept the reality” that increased public spending was not the answer to their problems, as well as face up to economic realities underpinning recently enacted reforms.

“In recent years, we’ve engaged in a blatant denial of reality,” Macron said in the address, delivered – unusually – from a standing position. “We can’t work less, earn more, cut taxes and increase spending.”

The speech came at the end of a torrid period for Macron, whose leadership has been severely rattled by six weeks of anti-government demonstrations.

“I believe in us,” he said, as he attempted to turn the page on the crisis and start 2019 on an upbeat note..

Citing hopes for more “truth, dignity and hope” in 2019, he urged the French: “Let’s stop running ourselves down and making believe that France is a country where solidarity doesn’t exist.”

“We live in one of the biggest economies in the world, with some of the best infrastructure in the world, we pay little or nothing for our children’s schooling and we are treated by excellent doctors at some of the lowest costs in the developed world,” he said.

While acknowledging the need for improved public services, particularly in rural areas where the yellow vest movement sprang up over anger at fuel taxes, he noted that public spending already amounted to over half of the country’s output.





People wearing yellow vests pose during the New Year’s celebrations on the Champs Elysees in Paris [Christian Hartmann/Reuters]

As he spoke, demonstrators clad in high-visibility yellow vests again gathered in  the capital, Paris, and other big cities to demand more measures in favour of the working poor and a greater say for ordinary people in the running of the country, in the form of citizen-sponsored referendums.

Several dozen protesters joined tens of thousands of tourists gathered on the famous Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris – the scene of pitched battles between protesters and police on several consecutive weekends before Christmas – for a New Year’s fireworks display.

In the southwestern city of Bordeaux, dozens of “yellow vests” occupied a major bridge.

As in Paris, the protesters said they intended the evening to be one of celebration, not of unrest. The protests look set to continue into 2019.

Nearly 150,000 security force members were deployed around the country to keep the peace.

Addressing concerns

Macron took aim at the the far-left and hard-right groupings active on the fringes of the often violent protests, decrying self-appointed “spokespeople for a hateful mob” who he said had targeted foreigners, Jews, gays and the press.

He also vowed not to be swayed from his reform agenda, which was thrown into question after he jettisoned his controversial fuel tax hike and announced 10bn euros ($11.48bn) in aid for the low-paid to try to tame the revolt.

Among the priorities he listed for 2019 were trimming the bloated public sector, as well as the unemployment and pension systems.

With an eye on European Parliament elections in May, he also announced plans to put forward a “renewed European project” based on “regaining control of our lives”, citing fiscal justice, agriculture, migration and security as areas where joint EU action was needed.

“Clearly, what he’s had to say has been affected by the yellow vest protests in the last couple of months and clearly a lot of what he was saying was addressing those concerns,” Al Jazeera’s Bernard Smith, reporting from Paris, said.


SOURCE:
Al Jazeera and news agencies

[ad_2]

Source link

قالب وردپرس

Buzz

Ottawa transit commission hopes to prioritize COVID-19 vaccines for OC Transpo workers

Editor

Published

on

By

Ottawa’s transit commission is pushing local and provincial health officials to recognize the role OC Transpo operators have played in keeping the city running during the COVID-19 pandemic, hoping to bump train and bus drivers in the vaccination queue amid a recent surge in coronavirus infections affecting transit workers.

More than 100 OC Transpo staff across the entire organization have tested positive for the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, according to an update at Wednesday morning’s transit commission meeting.

Of those cases, 26 employees are currently recovering from the disease in self-isolation.

OC Transpo has seen a recent jump in COVID-19 cases, with Ottawa city council receiving reports of eight operators testing positive for the virus over a recent eight-day period.

Transit commissioner Sarah Wright-Gilbert attempted to find out how many of the total cases are traced to workplace transmission, but OC Transpo boss John Manconi said he’s been advised by medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches that he can’t share that information for privacy reasons.

Transit operators are listed in the second priority group of essential workers as part of Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine sequencing plans, but several commissioners speaking Wednesday wanted to get the city’s bus and train drivers bumped higher in the order.

Councillors Riley Brockington and Glen Gower both put forward motions looking to get front-line OC Transpo employees prioritization in vaccine sequencing, but others pointed out that the much-debated public health topic of who gets the vaccine and when is well beyond the scope of the transit commission.

“We are not in a position in transit commission to be decreeing, or making an edict, about what group of essential workers is more at risk than others and should be prioritized. That should be left up to public health experts,” Wright-Gilbert said.

Knoxdale-Merivale Coun. Keith Egli, who also chairs the Ottawa Board of Health, reflected on the board’s four-plus-hour meeting on Monday evening, during which vaccine sequencing and prioritizing essential workers dominated the conversation.

“Vaccine sequencing is obviously a very difficult maze to get through,” he said.

Continue Reading

Buzz

COVID-19: Ottawa police announce end of 24-7 presence at Ontario-Quebec border

Editor

Published

on

By

Less than two days after the Ontario government’s latest COVID-19 restrictions came into effect, calling for non-essential traffic to be stopped at the province’s borders with Quebec and Manitoba, the Ottawa Police Service has announced it is stopping its 24-hour checkpoints.

According to a statement issued by the service Tuesday evening, the around-the-clock border checkpoints were set to end as of 8 p.m. on Tuesday in favour of rotating checkpoints across the city throughout the day until Ontario’s temporary regulations end.

“Since the onset of the border operations, the OPS has been working closely with Ottawa Public Health (OPH) along with local stakeholders and interprovincial stakeholders (the City of Ottawa, the City of Gatineau, the Ontario Provincial Police etc.) to assess any local public health, traffic and safety impacts. The assessment resulted in today’s operational changes,” the statement said.

“The operational changes announced today are designed to better ensure the health and safety of all, to minimize delays and/or hazards for travellers and to ensure essential workers can get to their places of employment on time.”

The statement also said the police service, while working to comply with the provincial order, was focused on education and enforcement actions that “support improved public health outcomes and respect the concerns of our most marginalized and racialized communities”

Officers said they will be conducting daily assessments on border crossings and that there could be further changes.

In a statement to Global News, a spokesperson for Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said that the border closures are ultimately subject to the discretion of local police enforcing the regulations.

“Local police services are best positioned to determine the operational deployments necessary to ensure the continued safety of their communities,” the spokesperson said, noting that the order’s regulations still apply to individuals entering the province.

The temporary order restricts Quebec residents from entering Ontario. If prompted, individuals must stop when directed by an enforcement officials and provide their reason for entering the province.

The main exemptions to the restrictions include if the person’s main home is in the province, if they work in Ontario, if they’re transporting goods, if they’re exercising Indigenous or treaty rights, if they need health care or if there’s a basis on compassionate grounds.

Continue Reading

Buzz

COVID-19 vaccines in Ottawa: Nearly half of all residents in their 60s have at least one dose

Editor

Published

on

By

OTTAWA — Ottawa Public Health’s latest COVID-19 vaccination update shows that nearly half of all residents 60 to 69 years old have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, a figure that has all but doubled in the past week.

OPH’s COVID-19 vaccination dashboard shows 58,000 residents 60 to 69 have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, accounting for 49.3 per cent of that age group’s population in Ottawa. Last Wednesday, OPH reported 30,000 residents 60 to 69 had had at least one dose, which was 25.4 per cent.

As age demographics get younger, the population grows larger and the coverage by percentage may appear to grow more slowly, even if clinics are vaccinating greater numbers of people. For example, the latest figures show that 83 per cent of people aged 70 to 79 have had at least one dose. By raw population that’s 60,000 people, only slightly higher than half of all people in their 60s.

Vaccinations are open through the Ontario portal to anyone 60 and older and, this week, the AstraZeneca vaccine was approved for administration at pharmacies and primary care clinics to anyone in Ontario 40 and older.

OPH reported a new shipment this week of 25,740 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. To date, Ottawa has received 305,130 doses of COVID-19 vaccines from the provincial government.

The number of eligible residents (i.e. 16 and older) with at least one dose of a vaccine is now up to 28 per cent.

Tuesday was Ottawa’s second-busiest day for vaccinations overall, with the OPH reporting 9,729 shots administered. Last Friday saw 9,887 shots administered in a single day.

QUICK STATS

  • Ottawa residents with at least one dose: 248,668
  • Ottawa residents with two doses: 26,722
  • Percent of eligible population (residents 16 and older) with at least one dose: 28 per cent
  • Percent of eligible population (residents 16 and older) with two doses: 3 per cent
  • Percent of total population with at least one dose: 24 per cent
  • Percent of total population with two doses: 3 per cent

VACCINATION COVERAGE BY AGE FOR OTTAWA RESIDENTS WITH AT LEAST ONE DOSE

  • 10-19: 1.6 per cent (1,804 people)
  • 20-29: 8.3 per cent (13,452 people)
  • 30-39: 9.5 per cent (14,999 people)
  • 40-49: 12.9 per cent (17,350 people)
  • 50-59: 28.8 per cent (40,320 people)
  • 60-69: 49.3 per cent (58,627 people)
  • 70-79: 82.9 per cent (62,808 people)
  • 80-89: 87.5 per cent (29,358 people)
  • 90+: 89.2 per cent (7,893 people)
  • Unknown age: 2,057 people 

Continue Reading

Chat

Trending