By Michelle Crystal Phan, March 10 2021—
Those residing in Beaver Creek, Yukon, expressed their disbelief as a millionaire Canadian couple Rodney and Ekaterina Baker flew into the community in late January. They claimed they were locals to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, as those residing in the territory are more susceptible to the virus and get priority in receiving the doses. As the Yukon’s Moderna vaccine batch was solely for the local community, many expressed their anger towards the couple’s actions, demanding justice.
Currently, the limited batches of COVID-19 vaccines in Canada are for certain groups of people such as older adults and frontline workers, making it difficult for the population that don’t fall into these groups to get vaccinated. The bigger issue is that many Canadians are waiting their turn to receive the vaccine — the ability for this couple to obtain doses quicker because of their wealth translates into how privilege is an arbiter in who can get vaccinated against the virus quicker.
The actions of the couple come from the deeper issue of selfishness and arrogance towards the community. Not only is the couple jumping ahead of the queue to get vaccinated, but also hijacking spots from the locals in Beaver Creek where Indigenous populations, including many Elders, live. These communities are more susceptible to the virus because of socioeconomic marginalization, making them more at risk especially during the pandemic. Yukon has one of the fewest hospitals relative to other provinces which explains its limited access to medical resources, making it more difficult to treat the virus within the population. The couple also failed to complete a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine when they landed in Yukon, further putting locals at risk.
Their actions show the lack of respect and dignity towards all Canadians waiting for the vaccine, those that are vulnerable to the virus and the population in Beaver Creek. The couple became an infamous example of how the privilege of having access to wealth can put them ahead of others. The couple were fined a total of $2,300 for violating Yukon’s Civil Emergency Measures Act, and many Beaver Creek residents are voicing that the fine is not enough of a deterrent. As public disapproval grows, the couple will be making a court appearance in May 2021 and could possibly be convicted for up to six months of jail time.
Since many Canadians are at risk because of this virus and the disrespect underlying the couple’s actions towards the community, I don’t believe that a small fine is enough, as $2,300 is likely not an inconvenience to the couple. Not only did this couple disobey The Yukon Territory’s measures, but they used their privilege to get ahead during a time where many Canadians are suffering by putting already vulnerable people even more at risk. A more severe consequence than the fine they received is pertinent to show that privilege and arrogance are not acceptable, especially during a pandemic. A heftier fine or donation that goes towards the development and growth of the Yukon community would better serve as justice, or a couple of months of jail time if the monetary fine is not enough of a deterrent.
This article is part of our Opinions section and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Gauntlet’s editorial board.