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A group representing Canadians who spend part of the year in sunnier climes says it has filed a legal challenge against Ontario’s decision to scrap out-of-country health insurance.

The Canadian Snowbird Association says eliminating the insurance goes against one of the five pillars of the Canada Health Act: portability.

The program covered out-of-country in-patient services up to $400 a day for a higher level of care, and up to $50 a day for emergency outpatient and doctor services.

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A spokeswoman for Health Minister Christine Elliott wouldn’t comment on the case as it is before the courts, but she says the program was costly and largely ineffectual.

Hayley Chazan says its limited coverage meant that Canadians who had no private insurance were left on the hook for “catastrophically large bills to pay.”

The federal government has warned that the change, which came into effect on New Year’s Day, could lead to higher insurance premiums for Ontarians travelling abroad.

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