It’s been nearly six years since the first cluster of SARS cases appeared in Toronto hospitals and those most directly affected — hospital patients, nurses and their families — have waited almost that long for their day in court.

The Ontario government heads to court today in a legal battle with SARS victims, who argue the province placed concerns about tourism and the economy ahead of eradicating the deadly disease.

The province argues members of the public have no right to sue the government for failing to stop the spread of a communicable disease.

SARS, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, killed 44 people, all in the Greater Toronto Area.

Lawyers for the attorney general are asking the Ontario Court of Appeal to throw out five lawsuits filed on behalf of dozens who were infected, including a group of 53 health care workers.

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