Doctors' court challenge argues refugee health care cuts are invalid | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Doctors' court challenge argues refugee health care cuts are invalid

December 17, 2013 - 1:33 PM

TORONTO - A group of doctors says Ottawa didn't have the legal authority to cut back health-care coverage for refugee claimants.

Lawyers for Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care told a federal court Tuesday the move wasn't an act of parliament, nor was it a regulation - which they argue makes it invalid.

The group is challenging the changes along with the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers and two refugee claimants who say losing their coverage caused them severe psychological stress.

Until June 30 of last year, Ottawa covered the costs of drugs and medical care for refugee claimants until they were eligible for provincial coverage or their claims had been rejected.

But the government put an end to almost all supplemental health-care benefits, slashing coverage in some cases to care only when it was a public health emergency.

The changes depend on whether the claimant comes from a list of countries that Ottawa has deemed safe and where it is less likely someone will be persecuted.

Lorne Waldman, who represents the doctors, said the government acted illegally in imposing the changes.

"When governments act, they have to have the legal authority to act - they can pass a law or enact a regulation," he explained outside court.

"This is not a law, this is not a regulation, so what is it then?"

News from © The Canadian Press, 2013
The Canadian Press

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