Outrage over a British Columbia couple’s elaborate scheme to jump the queue for a COVID-19 vaccine is growing. Reportedly, they chartered flights, broke quarantines and local regulations, and now must face charges.
The accused are Rodney Baker, former President and CEO of Great Canadian Gaming, and his wife, Ekaterina, a Russian-born aspiring actress. They lied about being local motel workers in Yukon to get doses of the Moderna vaccine.
According to the Yukon Community Services Minister, John Streicker, the couple arrived in Whitehorse on January 19th. They chartered a flight to Bever Creek near the Alaskan border, without undergoing the mandatory quarantine period. The pair violated the territorial Civil Emergency Measures Act (CEMA).
No doubt they knew that Yukon’s small, rural communities have priority to receive vaccinations as they more vulnerable to the impacts of the virus given the distance to resources.
Great Canadian Gaming spokesperson, Chuck Keeling, said that the company “does not comment on personnel matters.” However, it “strictly follows all directives and guidance issued by public health authorities in each jurisdiction where we operate.”
The couple was caught red handed as they attempted to fly home after being vaccinated. That’s when the CEMA enforcement unit was called. It was found that the couple did not work in the stated motel. It was clear that they were not self-isolating.
Their plane tickets listed the Bakers as sharing an address in downtown Vancouver. Meanwhile, White River First Nation, whose government office is located in Beaver Creek, issued a statement condemning the couple’s actions and calling for harsher penalties.
The statement slammed the Yukon government’s communications protocols since the First Nation first learned about the incident from the media. Streicker took responsibility for the failure to immediately contact the First Nation.
What will happen to the violators? CEMA violations come with a maximum penalty of a $500 fine plus a $75 victim surcharge per count, six months in jail, or both.
The territory is now trying to adopt tighter policies, including proper identification in the form of a health card, to avoid a similar incident. Employment will be strictly verified in the future. According to Streiker, “All that is being sorted out by the team right now. They are trying to figure out how to keep everybody safe.”
Officials found the incident shocking, but they don’t think it will happen again.
“We just didn’t anticipate that anyone would go to this length to
effectively deceive the team to get vaccinated, and we all felt pretty
offended at the whole thing. We will put in place additional procedures.”