Millionaire Couple Fined After Receiving COVID-19 Vaccine Meant for At-Risk Indigenous Residents
Rodney and Ekaterina Baker traveled to Canada’s Yukon territory that has a large elderly population
Vancouver couple Rodney and Ekaterina Baker were fined after receiving their first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine after allegedly posing as workers in an Indigenous community in Canada's Yukon territory.
"On January 21, 2021, two individuals presented at Yukon's mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Beaver Creek, Yukon, the westernmost community in Canada with a population of less than 125 people," Community Services Minister John Streicker told PEOPLE in a statement.
The Bakers did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.
Rodney, former head of the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, and his wife chartered a plane to Beaver Creek from their home in Vancouver.
The couple then posed as essential workers to get the vaccine meant for members of the White River First Nation. "One individual presented a British Columbia healthcare card and one presented an Ontario healthcare card," Streicker said.
Yukon's Health and Social Services did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's requests for comment.
CEMA (Civil Emergency Measures Act) officials received a tip about the Bakers after the couple asked for a ride to the airport following getting vaccines.
Once it was discovered the couple got the vaccine under false pretenses, enforcement officers found them at the airport and they were each given two fines under the territory's Civil Emergency Measures Act. One fine for failing to self-isolate for 14 days upon entry into the territory and another fine for failing to follow their signed declaration signed upon entry.
The fines add up to $900 per person.
"The territory's self-isolation requirements are in place to protect the health and safety of all Yukoners," Streicker said. "Anyone who violates the self-isolation requirements puts all Yukoners at risk and we take those actions very seriously."
The Yukon territory is especially at risk because of its elderly population.
Yukon's Community Services Minister added, "I am outraged by this selfish behaviour, and find it disturbing that people would choose put fellow Canadians at risk in this manner."
"I think the problem is if someone thinks that they can come here to get a vaccine, that concerns me, and if they do so in a way that puts people at risk, that really concerns me, so I'm sure there'll be lots of conversation to come," Streicker told CBC News.
White River First Nation Chief Angela Demit told Yukon News, "We implore all Canadians to respect the vaccination rollout process and to not take similar actions. While we understand many want to have a vaccination immediately, it is not appropriate to skirt the rules put in place and approach our community in this way. WRFN was selected for vaccines given our remoteness, elderly and high-risk population, as well as limited access to health care."
In a statement, the WRFN organization said they do "not feel that this lenient punishment is appropriate for the gravity of the actions taken, given the potentially lethal effects to our community."
Chief Demit also claimed in the statement that Yukon's government didn't directly inform them about the violation, but rather they found out from the media.
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The former head of the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, Rodney, resigned on Sunday following the scandal, according to Yukon News.
His wife, Katerina, is an actress who was in the 2020 films Fatman and Chick Fight.