Ottawa Appeals SC Orders to Pay Home Care of Disabled Native Teenager

This article was last updated on April 16, 2022

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The federal government has appealed the Supreme Court of Canada decision to reverse a court ruling that enforces the government to pay the cost of caring for a sternly disabled aboriginal teenager living at home. The original case revolves around an 18-year-old on the Pictou Landing reserve in Nova Scotia and his principal caregiver, his mother, who herself has suffered from a devastating stroke in 2010.

The Federal Court ruled last month that Ottawa was at wrong to have only reimbursed a part of the total cost of care for Jeremy Meawasige, who suffers from cerebral palsy, autism, spinal curvature and hydrocephalus, a debilitating accumulation of spinal fluid in the brain. The court declared that the government is obligated to uphold “Jordan’s Principle,” i.e. a 2005 agreement that First Nations children shall receive any public assistance they need, despite of jurisdictional fights between levels of government over who should pay. At the time the ruling was highly appraised as a step toward ensuring aboriginal children getting equal access to essential government services.

The Lawyer representing Meawasige’s mother, Maurina Beadle, and the Pictou Landing band, Paul Champ, stated that the appeal is extremely “shameful.” He mentioned in an e-mail message that “I understand that the Pictou Landing case is a big precedent, but is it really one they should fight?” He added that “I think it looks terrible for the government to be seen opposing Jordan’s Principle and equality for disabled First Nations children.”

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