Millionaire Canadian couple who jumped queue to get vaccines meant for First Nation fined but not jailed

·2 min read
The welcome sign at Beaver Creek, Yukon. Representational image. (Getty Images)
The welcome sign at Beaver Creek, Yukon. Representational image. (Getty Images)

A millionaire Canadian couple who travelled to a remote First Nation community and jumped the queue to get doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been fined but avoided jail time.

Rod Baker, the former chief executive of Great Canadian Gaming Corp, and his partner Ekaterina who is an actor, pleaded guilty to two counts of violating Yukon Territory’s Civil Emergency Measures Act.

The couple reportedly chartered a private plane from Whitehorse to Beaver Creek in the Yukon territory in January.

They posed as local motel workers to get vaccinated at a mobile clinic in the community before returning to Whitehorse city, according to local reports. The couple was intercepted when they were getting ready to take a flight to Vancouver.

The couple have been fined C$2,300 (£1,340) after pleading guilty to failing to self-isolate for 14 days and failing to act in a manner consistent with their declaration upon arriving in Yukon.

Judge Michael Cozens of the Yukon Territorial Court said while delivering the sentence that “fortunately, nothing physical happened in this case, no one got Covid as a result,” according to CBC News.

He said: “There was harm, but the harm wasn't anyone catching Covid. It was certainly psychological.”

The court also heard that the Bakers had each donated C$5,000 (£2,912) to the UN-led global vaccine sharing programme Covax, according to AP. The judge encouraged the couple to offer their reparations directly to the Beaver Creek community, which is home to the White River First Nation.

The White River First Nation had called for the couple to receive a harsh penalty.

Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Yukon regional chief Kluane Adamek had said in a statement in January that “the fines and consequences need to be higher for this type of blatant disregard for First Nations safety.”

Crown prosecutor Kelly McGill was quoted by the Guardian as saying that while the government had earlier considered jail time, the couple’s guilty plea and their donations to Covax were mitigating factors.

Mr Baker resigned as the CEO of Great Canadian Gaming Corp shortly after the incident was reported in the media.

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