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Canada’s Andreescu, Bouchard, Shapovalov into second round at Australian Open

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MELBOURNE, Australia — Canadian teenager Bianca Andreescu continued her stellar start to the 2019 season, advancing to the second round of the Australian Open after a lengthy, three-set victory over American wild card Whitney Osuigwe on Tuesday.

The 18-year-old from Mississauga, Ont., needed two tiebreakers and nearly three hours to defeat the 16-year-old Osuigwe 7-6 (1), 6-7, 6-3 in her first career main-draw match at the Melbourne major.

Andreescu was the third Canadian to reach the second round on the day, following Denis Shapovalov and Eugenie Bouchard, who both advanced with straight-sets victories over their respective opponents.

Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ont. — Canada’s top-ranked singles player at No. 17 — faced Australia’s Nick Kyrgios and beat him 6-4, 7-6 (5), 6-4 in a first-round match at Melbourne Park.

It was the seventh meeting between the pair and the first since 2016, and Raonic has now taken a 4-3 advantage. Raonic next plays former champion Stan Wawrinka, who advanced when his opponent Ernests Gulbis retired in the second set of their match with a back injury.

Bouchard downed wild card Peng Shuai of China 6-2, 6-1 in under an hour while Shapovalov beat Pablo Andujar of Spain 6-2, 6-3, 7-6 (3).

Andreescu went through three qualifying rounds to earn a spot in the main draw of the tournament. She is coming off her first appearance in a WTA final at the ASB Classic in New Zealand two weeks ago.

Andreescu upset former World No. 1s Caroline Wozniacki and Venus Williams before losing to No. 14 Julia Goerges in the championship match in Auckland. The stellar run saw Andreescu rise 45 spots in the WTA standings to sit at a career-high No. 107 entering the Australian Open.

In Tuesday’s match, Andreescu converted on 4-of-10 break points and had 40 winners to Osuigwe’s 20.

The Canadian ran into trouble in the second-set tiebreak, failing to earn a single point to give Osuigwe the momentum heading into the third and deciding set.

But Andreescu rebounded nicely, breaking her young opponent to go up 5-3 and holding serve to win it. The match lasted 2 hours 46 minutes.

Andreescu will play No. 13 Anastasija Sevastova in the second round.

Shapovalov, seeded 25th at the first Grand Slam tournament of the season, looked to be cruising into the second round before Andujar showed some life in the third set. Down 5-3, the Spaniard broke the 19-year-old Canadian for the first time all night, and the two held serve the rest of the way to set up the tiebreak.

Andujar saved one match point in the tiebreak but the Richmond Hill, Ont., left-hander responded with a forehand winner to seal the match.

Shapovalov, ranked No. 27 on the ATP standings, had 15 aces, 51 winners and won 84 per cent of his first-service points. The 82nd-ranked Andujar had just one ace and seven double faults.

Bouchard came out firing in her earlier match, winning the first set in just 28 minutes. The match lasted 59 minutes total.

The 33-year-old Peng broke Bouchard’s serve down 3-0 in the second set, but the Westmount, Que., native broke right back when Peng sailed a backhand shot wide. Peng saved one match point on her serve but a backhand wide gave the Canadian another, and Bouchard clinched with a forehand to the open court.

The 24-year-old Bouchard, a former World No. 5, entered the Australian Open ranked No. 79.

The 2014 Wimbledon finalist, who also made the Australian Open and French Open semifinals in a breakthrough 2014, will be severely tested in her second-round match Thursday when she plays 23-time Grand Slam singles champion Serena Williams.

Shapovalov will play No. 78 Taro Daniel of Japan in the second round.

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Federal Budget 2021: Ottawa adds $1B to broadband fund for rural, remote communities

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The federal government will add $1 billion to a fund for improving high-speed communications in rural and remote areas of Canada, bringing the total to $2.75 billion by 2026, the Liberals said Monday in their first full budget since the pandemic began last year.

The money is going to the Universal Broadband Fund, which is designed to support the installation of “backbone” infrastructure that connects underserved communities to high-speed internet.

It’s one of many government and private-sector initiatives that have gained urgency since the pandemic began, as Canadians became more dependent on internet service for applications ranging from e-learning to daily business operations.

Ottawa says the additional money will keep it on track to have high-speed broadband in 98 per cent of the country by 2026, and 100 per cent by 2030.

Money spent on high-speed communications will be good for a recovering economy, said Pedro Antunes, chief economist at the Conference Board of Canada, a non-partisan think-tank.

The latest data from Statistics Canada says there were about five million people working from home during the pandemic, up from about two million prior to that, Antunes said in an interview.

“That’s a quarter or so of the workforce,” he added. “And I think a fair number of those people are going to continue to work from home, at least in some part-time way.”

Improved connections to high-speed broadband and mobile communications will add to the productive capacity of the economy overall, especially as it reaches beyond Canada’s cities, Antunes said.

He said there’s been a “real issue” with economic growth outside major urban centres and the improved connectivity “is something that can help stimulate that.”

The Universal Broadband Fund was initially mentioned in the 2019 budget, though specifics were not available until last November’s fiscal update.

The $1-billion top-up to the broadband fund announced today is in addition to $1.75 billion promised to the fund by the federal government’s November fiscal update.

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COVID-19: What you need to know for April 19

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Provincewide

  • Per today’s government report, there are 4,447 new cases in Ontario, for a total of 421,442 since the pandemic began; 2,202 people are in hospital, 755 of them in intensive care, and 516 on ventilators. To date, 7,735 people have died.
  • According to data from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, there are 40 outbreaks in long-term-care facilities, 36 confirmed active cases of positive residents, and 127 confirmed active cases of positive staff. To date, there have been 3,755 confirmed resident deaths and 11 confirmed staff deaths.
  • Per the government’s report on Ontario’s vaccination program, as of 7 p.m. yesterday, Ontario has administered 66,897 new doses of COVID-19 vaccines, for a total of 3,904,778 since December 2020. 3,212,768 people have received only one dose, and 346,005 people have received both doses.

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Federal budget 2021 highlights: Child care, recovery benefits, OAS increases – everything you need to know

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The federal government’s first budget in more than two years certainly looks the part: At 739 pages, it is a hefty document chock full of billions in new spending.

Those funds will be spread among a number of key groups – students, seniors, parents and small-business owners, to name a few – as Ottawa looks to bolster Canada’s recovery from COVID-19 but also plan for life beyond the pandemic.

To that end, the deficit is projected to hit $354.2-billion in the 2020-21 fiscal year, which just ended – better than expected about five months ago, given the economy’s resilience over the winter months. It is estimated to fall to $154.7-billion this fiscal year, before dropping further in the years to come as pandemic spending recedes from view.

Here are some of the highlights from Monday’s budget.

The budget outlines tens of billions of dollars in federal subsidies for a national child-care program, a promise the Liberal Party has made in some form since the early 1990s. Child-care supports became a point of national debate during pandemic lockdowns as parents with young children struggled to juggle work and family responsibilities.

In total, the government proposes spending as much as $30-billion over the next five years, and $8.3-billion each year after that, to bring child-care fees down to a $10-a-day average by 2026. The proposal, which requires negotiation with the provinces and territories, would split subsidies evenly with those governments and targets a 50-per-cent reduction in average child-care fees by the end of 2022.

The federal program is largely modelled on Quebec’s subsidized child-care system, implemented in the 1990s in an effort to increase women’s access to the labour market. Since then, labour participation rates for women aged 25 to 54 in the province have grown to exceed the national average by four percentage points.

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