The chief executive officer of Great Canadian Gaming Corp. has stepped down after he and his wife were charged under Yukon’s emergency measures act with breaking quarantine rules and misleading authorities after they were accused of posing as motel workers to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
Court documents say Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker, an actor, were charged under the territory’s Civil Emergency Measures Act on Jan. 21. The Vancouver couple were each fined $575 for failing to self-isolate for 14 days and for failing to behave in manner consistent with declaration.
“We had not been imagining that someone would go to this sort of length to mislead or deceive the [vaccination] team,” Yukon Minister of Community Services John Streicker said in an interview.
The gambling and entertainment company announced Mr. Baker’s resignation on Monday, ending a tenure that began in 2011. He also stepped down from the company’s board of directors.
“Great Canadian’s board of directors has no tolerance for actions that run counter to the company’s objectives and values,” read a statement from Chuck Keeling, the company’s vice-president of stakeholder relations.
“Any such actions whatsoever that run contrary to the company’s core values, that do not comply with GCGC’s strict compliance policies in regards to travel, and ensure that the company and its employees follow all health guidance and directions, will not be tolerated.”
The company did not disclose terms of severance for Mr. Baker, who stands to receive more than $28-million from a private-equity fund that is acquiring Great Canadian.
Mr. Streicker said local administrators of the vaccine effort and others told him that a few days before the clinic, two people arrived from outside the territory, where they were obliged to self-isolate for 14 days. The couple checked into a hotel in Whitehorse.
“Fast forward to Thursday the 21st, two days later. What I am told is they chartered a flight. They flew to Beaver Creek. They showed up at the clinic. What they said at the clinic is that they were employed at the local motel,” he said.
The remote hamlet on the Alaskan border has one health clinic staffed by a nurse and a receptionist. A six-person medical team flew in to run the vaccination clinic.
Chief Angela Demit of the White River First Nation in Beaver Creek said the community was chosen to get the vaccine because of its remoteness, elderly and high-risk population, and limited access to health care.
“These vaccines are for our community members, our citizens here,” Chief Demit said. “It’s alarming and disappointing that something like this happened.”
Rita Luxton, manager of the 1202 Motor Inn, where the two people told clinic staff they worked, expressed anger about the events.
“I risk my life every day to serve [travelling] Americans ... but that’s a risk that we take – not a risk that somebody enforces upon us because they’re too ignorant,” she said.
Clinic staff knew something was off last Thursday, Ms. Luxton said.
“They phoned over here and asked if those people work here, which they don’t,” Ms. Luxton said. “I don’t think a $500 fine is going to give any kind of justice to anybody because the guy can obviously afford to charter a Goddamned plane.”
Caulene May said the pilot of the small charter plane radioed in to her tiny airstrip saying he was landing there in about 10 minutes because it was too foggy to continue north.
The pilot sat in her small lounge while the two passengers caught a short ride into town, Ms. May said. Two hours later, they trudged the kilometre back to the airfield and the plane took off for Whitehorse, she said.
Mr. Streicker said the two people asked if someone could take them to the airport after they were vaccinated, which “raised flags” with the vaccination team. They called the enforcement unit for the Civil Emergency Measures Act.
Members of the unit found the charter flight from Beaver Creek at the Whitehorse airport and went to the hotel where the couple were staying. On learning the pair had checked out, they returned to the airport and found them waiting for a flight to Vancouver.
“They found these two individuals in the boarding lounge, and that’s when they got charged,” he said.
The Bakers did not respond to several attempts by The Globe to contact them. A call on Monday to Ms. Baker’s personal cell and an e-mail account listed on her IMDb page were not answered. Her agent in Toronto said she would pass along The Globe’s request for comment.
Ms. Baker had a small role in an action comedy starring Alec Baldwin released last year and had a larger role in a crime drama with Morgan Freeman listed as in production, according to her IMDb page.
Mr. Baker had a $900,000 annual salary as of 2019, according to the most recent disclosure from Great Canadian Gaming. From Dec. 31, 2019, to Dec. 31, 2020, stock-trading records showed he made a profit of $45.9-million exercising 1.45 million Great Canadian Gaming options.
The Toronto-based company operates 25 casinos in Ontario, British Columbia, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
With a report from David Milstead
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