Millionaire Canadians flew by private plane to a remote province to get vaccines meant for elderly First Nations people, officials say

  • Two rich Canadians travelled to remote Yukon province to cut in line for a vaccine, officials said.
  • Rodney and Ekaterina Baker flew more than 1,000 miles in a private plane, Yukon News reported.
  • They received a vaccine there, where doses are meant to be for vulnerable indigenous people.
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A wealthy Canadian couple was fined after officials said they flew to Canada's remote north to access vaccines meant for vulnerable indigenous people who live there.

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker were accused of leaving Vancouver and travelling more than 1,000 miles to Beaver Creek, Yukon, for a coronavirus shot, per the Yukon News. At least part of the trip was allegedly by private plane.

Rodney Baker was head of the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation. According to Yukon News, his total annual compensation in 2019 was $10.6 million.

The company announced his resignation on January 25, four days after he and his wife were fined. He was first appointed president in 2010, after previously working as a senior advisor.

A spokesperson for the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation told Yukon News that "As a matter of policy, Great Canadian does not comment on personnel matters," and said that the company is following coronavirus directives and advice."

The outlet said that the two were fined on January 21, after officials realized that they had breaching travel rules by failing to isolate during a stop-over at Whitehorse, Yukon, before reaching the vaccine center at Beaver Creek.

John Streicker, Yukon's Community Services Minister, said the couple lied to officials at the clinic where the vaccine was being administered, per the Yukon News. He said they pretended to be workers at a local motel.

Beaver Creek is an isolated community of around 100 people, including members of the White River First Nation.

Elderly members of that community were among those due to be vaccinated there, The Guardian reported. 

The Moderna vaccine was being distributed, and the couple managed to secure their doses.

The Yukon News tweeted a photo of the couple:

They were charged with breaking Yukon's Civil Emergency Measures Act, the outlet reported.

Under coronavirus restrictions, people arriving in Yukon have to self-isolate for 14 days in Whitehorse and complete a self-declaration form.

Officials found the couple at the airport in Whitehouse after a tip-off, the Yukon News said. The place they said on the official form they would use to self-isolate was empty, per the report.

They were fined $1,150 each, Yukon News reported.

Streicker told CBC News: "I'm really upset at these individuals. Effectively what they did was they put our community and our isolation team at risk."

"I'm pretty angry at the whole thing."

Angela Demit, the chief of the White River First Nation, said in a statement that "We are deeply concerned by the actions of individuals who put our Elders and vulnerable people at risk to jump the line for selfish purposes."

She said the community "was selected for vaccines given our remoteness, elderly and high-risk population, as well as limited access to health care."

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon's Chief Medical Officer, said that the couple's action posed "very low" risk to the community, but described their "deception" as "the height of selfishness," Vice News reported.

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