In a decision released today, Justice Anne Mactavish also says that the changes announced two years ago create two tiers of health coverage between refugees who are from designated countries of origin and those who are not.
Ottawa trimmed medical benefits for newcomers in 2012, leaving most immigrants with basic, essential health care but without supplementals such as vision and dental care.
However, rejected refugee claimants — and refugee claimants from countries the government considers safe — will be eligible for care only when they pose a threat to public health.
Government lawyers had argued the new rules bring health benefits for newcomers in line with what other Canadians receive and deter those who would abuse the health-care system.
They argued refugee claimants can still access health care through other programs, including those put in place by some provinces to reinstate access to essential and emergency care.