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Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca speaks at a campaign event at a park in Ottawa on May 7.Justin Tang/The Canadian Press

The Ontario Liberals are promising to put $1 billion over two years toward clearing a surgical backlog.

Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca says the COVID-19 pandemic has put an incredible strain on health-care services and health-care professionals.

He says a Liberal government would put the additional funding into allowing hospitals to operate “significantly” above pre-pandemic volumes and expand operating room and diagnostic procedures into evenings and weekends.

The Ontario Medical Association estimated last fall that the pandemic had created a backlog of 20 million health-care services including doctors’ visits, diagnostic tests, treatments and surgeries.

In March, then-health minister Christine Elliott said the surgical backlog was around 50,000.

The Liberals say they will also help create not-for-profit surgery centres managed by local hospitals to manage higher surgical volumes.

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