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Indigenous Services minister slams Vancouver couple for flying to Yukon for COVID-19 vaccine

Last Updated Jan 27, 2021 at 9:52 am PST

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller speaks during a news conference in Ottawa, Wednesday January 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Summary

Marc Miller says Vancouver couple flying to Yukon for COVID vaccines 'maybe the dumbest thing I've seen in a long while'

Wealthy Vancouver couple reportedly flew to Yukon First Nation to jump the line for a COVID-19 vaccine

Indigenous Services minister says 'perhaps reparations are due on some level' over Rod, Ekaterina Baker's vaccine trip

OTTAWA – The federal minister in charge of Indigenous Services is not holding back in his criticisms of a wealthy couple from Vancouver accused of flying to the Yukon in order to jump the line for the COVID-19 vaccine.

“That is maybe the dumbest thing I’ve seen in a long while,” Minister Marc Miller says.

“I’m disgusted. Canadians expect the health-care system in Canada to be fair,” he adds.

He adds he’s disgusted to hear the story of Rod Baker, who at the time was the CEO of Great Canadian Gaming, and his wife Ekaterina, flying to the First Nation community of Beaver Creek just so they allegedly didn’t have to wait to receive the shot like everyone else.

They were supposed to isolate for 14 days upon arrival, as per the territory’s public health rules, but reportedly didn’t.

Both Bakers have been ticketed and charged for breaking isolation rules in the Yukon, although nothing has been proven in court.

The federal government has prioritized First Nations and the north for vaccinations because of the lack of health resources in remote communities.

Miller suggests there should be some form of reconciliation.

“That was the most idiotic thing I’ve seen in weeks. There’s lots of stuff on the internet that rises to that level,” he says. “I understand these people are wealthy, I won’t tell them what to do with their money, but perhaps reparations are due of some level.”

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The B.C. government says the couple will not be allowed to jump the line to receive their second dose, which is required to be fully inoculated.

“There is no room in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan for people who deliberately put vulnerable populations at risk in order to receive their vaccine before the start of their eligibility group,” reads a statement from the Ministry of Health to NEWS 1130.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth calls the “moral lapse in judgement” despicable.

“It is beyond comprehension how someone could go to such lengths to do such a disgusting thing when the vaccines are being rolled out. Every Canadian who wants to be vaccinated is going to be able to be vaccinated. It’s just an unbelievable case of a sense entitlement,” he tells NEWS 1130.

Rod Baker stepped down as CEO of the casino company in the wake of the revelation about his trip.