Ottawa drops appeal in Jeremy Meawasige case

The federal government has dropped its appeal of a court decision involving the care of a severely disabled teen living on a Nova Scotia reserve.

Court ruled the federal government must pay the costs of keeping aboriginal teen at home

Jeremy Meawasige and his mother Maurina Beadle at their home in Pictou Landing First Nation in Nova Scotia. The federal government's legal bills to fight a Nova Scotia woman who is seeking care for her severely disabled teen would have paid for almost three years of his care. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

The federal government has dropped its appeal of a court decision involving the care of a severely disabled teen living on a Nova Scotia reserve.

Paul Champ, the lawyer representing the boy’s mother, told CBC News the government told him on Friday that it won’t be pursuing its appeal any longer.

Jeremy Meawasige, who lives on the Pictou Landing reserve, suffers from cerebral palsy, autism, spinal curvature and hydrocephalus, a debilitating accumulation of spinal fluid in the brain.​

His mother, Maurina Beadle, fought for the same level of care that the province would provide to an aboriginal child off reserve.

Because Meawasige lives on a reserve, his care is the responsibility of the federal government. The federal government wanted to cap the payments at $2,000 per month. The cost of his care is closer to $6,000 per month.

A Federal court agreed with Beadle in 2013 when it ruled that the government was wrong to cover only a fraction of the costs to care for Meawasige.

Documents show that the federal government has spent nearly $200,000 fighting that decision.

Champ says the band was thrilled when they found out the government was dropping its appeal.

“This was really community victory for the Pictou Landing band...They have been paying, even though it’s a really small community, out of their own pockets to provide the care for Jeremy for all these years," he said.

The original federal court ruling says the federal government 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.