Family wins bid to keep disabled son on N.S. reserve

The Federal Court has told Ottawa to reimburse a First Nations band for the costs of taking care of a severely disabled teenager living at home - a ruling that could have widespread implications for federal social services on reserves.

Court rules the federal government must pay the costs of keeping Jeremy Meawasige at home

The federal government said it wouldn't pay for Jeremy Meawasige's care unless he moved into a special care unit outside his community. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

The Federal Court has told Ottawa to reimburse a First Nations band for the costs of taking care of a severely disabled teenager living at home - a ruling that could have widespread implications for federal social services on reserves.

Justice Leonard Mandamin has ruled that the federal government was wrong to cover only a fraction of the costs of taking care of Jeremy Meawasige from the Pictou Landing band in Nova Scotia.

The ruling says Ottawa is obliged to uphold Jordan's Principle  - an agreement that First Nations children should get the public help they need, regardless of jurisdictional disputes between governments about who should pay.

The principle is named after a boy who died in hospital in Manitoba while governments bickered about payment of home-care services.

Paul Champ, the lawyer for Jeremy's mother, said the ruling sets a precedent ensuring all First Nations children across Canada have access to the same level of essential government services as off-reserve children.