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Ottawa taken to court over refugee health

TORONTO - A group of doctors and lawyers is taking the federal government to court over cuts to health care for refugee claimants.

They're asking the Federal Court for a judicial review of Immigration Minister Jason Kenney's decision and say the court should declare the cuts unconstitutional.

Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care and the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers say the cuts deny basic, emergency and life-saving medical care to thousands of refugee claimants lawfully seeking protection here.

Up until June 30, 2012, the federal government covered the costs of drugs and medical care for refugee claimants until they had been in Canada long enough for provincial coverage to kick in.

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

Three people affected by the cuts are also part of the court challenge, including Hanif Ayubi — a man from Afghanistan whose refugee claim was rejected.

Ayubi, who can not be sent home because there is a moratorium on removals to that country, now can't get insulin for his Type 1 diabetes.

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