The former president and CEO of the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation and his wife are facing charges -- including failure to self-isolate -- after allegedly chartering a plane to a small town in western Canada and posing as local workers to receive the coronavirus vaccine.
Rodney and Ekaterina Baker have been charged under Yukon's Civil Emergency Measures Act (CEMA), according to court documents.
Yukon Community Services Minister John Streicker said the couple showed up at a mobile clinic last Thursday in Beaver Creek, home to an indigenous community.
One of them presented a British Columbia health care card, the other had one from Ontario, Streicker said in a statement.
The Bakers weren't charged for getting the vaccine. Rather, they were accused of not following quarantine requirements after arriving in the Canadian territory.
According to a charging document, the Bakers are from Vancouver, British Columbia, southeast of the Yukon territory.
"I am outraged by this selfish behaviour, and find it disturbing that people would choose to put fellow Canadians at risk in this manner," Streicker said. "Reports allege these individuals were deceptive and violated emergency measures for their own advantage, which is completely unacceptable at any time, but especially during a public health crisis."
CNN was unable Tuesday to reach the Bakers for comment.
Couple posed as local motel employees, reports say
Indigenous communities are one of the groups given priority for Covid-19 vaccinations, according to Canada's vaccine guidance. They are often also disproportionately affected by the novel coronavirus because they can be in areas where health care access is limited.
Beaver Creek, the westernmost community in Canada, is the home of the White River First Nation. It is just a few miles from the Alaska border.
The Bakers allegedly chartered a plane from the city of Whitehorse in Yukon to Beaver Creek, which has about 125 residents, and claimed they were employees at a local motel, Streicker told CNN news partner CBC.
The Bakers arrived in Yukon from Vancouver on January 19 and were supposed to be self-isolating for 14 days in Whitehorse, according to officials. According to a complaint made to law enforcement, they traveled to Beaver Creek on January 21. The travel was not allowed because of quarantine requirements, officials said.
After getting their shots, the couple raised suspicions in the community by asking for a ride to the airport, Streicker told CNN news partner CBC.
"And people were like, 'Well, why would you be going to the airport?' " Streicker said.
Following an investigation, the couple was located at the Whitehorse airport, and Yukon officials told CNN the couple left the territory that same day.
Members of the mobile clinic team called the motel and were informed the couple did not work there, Streicker told CBC.
CNN reached out to Streicker for comment on Tuesday but did not hear back.
As for getting the vaccines, according to Streicker, the British Columbia and Ontario health cards wouldn't have necessarily prevented the Bakers from getting them, as there are many out-of-territory workers in the region.
Rodney, 55, and Ekaterina Baker, 32, were each charged with failure to self-isolate for 14 days upon entry into the territory and failure to behave in a manner consistent with the declaration provided upon entry into the territory.
Charges under the Civil Emergency Measures Act (CEMA) may include fines up to $500; up to 6 months in prison; or both, according to Yukon's Covid-19 orders and directions. The Bakers were each levied a $500 fine and $75 surcharge on both counts.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police were alerted to the situation. The RCMP's Yukon office said Tuesday it is investigating; it would not reply to CNN questions.
The Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, a hotel and casino company with 25 Canadian properties, told CNN that while it didn't comment on personnel matters relating to former employees, effective January 24, Rodney Baker was no longer the president and CEO of Great Canadian and is "no longer affiliated in any way with the company."
"As a company, Great Canadian takes health and safety protocols extremely seriously, and our company strictly follows all directives and guidance issued by public health authorities in each jurisdiction where we operate," the statement added.
The White River First Nation said it "is particularly concerned with the callous nature of these actions taken by the individuals, as they were a blatant disregard for the rules in which keep our community safe during this unprecedented global pandemic."
text by Madeline Holcombe and Rebekah Riess, CNN