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Couple accused of flying to Yukon for vaccine 'despicable': B.C. minister

Last Updated Jan 26, 2021 at 3:13 pm PST

Rod Baker stepped down as the CEO of the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation. (Source: Great Canadian Gaming)

Mike Farnworth says alleged actions of former Great Canadian Gaming Corp. CEO shows 'lack of ethical or moral compass'

Former Great Canadian Gaming Corp. CEO and his wife accused of flying to Yukon to get a COVID-19 vaccine

Health-case ethicist says alleged actions of Rodney and Ekaterina Baker points to inequitable health-care

VANCOUVER — B.C.’s public safety minister says a Vancouver couple accused of flying to Yukon to get a COVID-19 vaccine is one of the most “despicable” things he’s heard.

Mike Farnworth spoke about the alleged actions of former Great Canadian Gaming Corp. CEO Rodney Baker and his wife Ekaterina Baker.

“I think what we saw yesterday, of individuals flying to Yukon — was probably one of the most despicable things that I’ve seen in a long time. It shows a complete lack of any sort of ethical or moral compass on people who would do such a thing,” he said.

Tickets filed in a Whitehorse court show the 55-year-old man and his 32-year-old wife were each charged with failing to self-isolate for 14 days and failing to act in a manner consistent with their declarations upon arriving in Yukon. The allegations against them have not been proven in court and the tickets indicate the couple can challenge them.

Related article: CEO of Great Canadian Gaming resigns after accusations of Yukon trip for COVID-19 vaccine

Ekaterina Baker did not immediately respond to calls and emails requesting comment, while Rodney Baker did not immediately return a request for comment sent to Great Canadian Gaming, which accepted his resignation Sunday.

Farnworth said the couple paid a “pretty high price,” with Rodney Baker losing what the minister described as a “$10-million-a-year job.”

An information circular published by Great Canadian Gaming in March 2020 says Baker earned a total of about $6.7 million in compensation from the company in 2019.

Meanwhile, a health care ethicist at Toronto General Hospital says the alleged actions points to inequitable health care for those who have the money. Kevin Rodrigues says those who can afford to jump the queue are exposing existing differences in health care that disproportionately impact poorer Canadians.

“This is certainly a much more egregious way of exposing this,” he said. “It literally is ‘if you have the means, you can buy your health.’ It speaks to fundamental injustice, not just within our system, but maybe even globally.”

The tickets were issued on Thursday under Yukon’s Civil Emergency Measures Act and both people face fines of $1,000, plus fees.