Great Canadian Gaming Corp CEO resigns after COVID-19 vaccine scandal

  • Rod Baker has resigned after 10 years at the helm of Great Canadian Gaming Corp.
  • He traveled to a remote town with his wife in January, where he broke quarantine requirements to get a COVID-19 vaccine. 
  • The couple pretended to be staff, and were later caught and charged by authorities, Canadian media reported. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The chief executive of a Canadian casino company has resigned after he was caught violating the country’s lockdown measures to get a COVID-19 vaccine. 

Rod Baker, CEO of the the Great Canadian Gaming Corp., and his wife, actress Ekaterina Baker, traveled from Vancouver to Whitehorse, Yukon on January 19. Two days later, the couple broke the territory’s 14-day quarantine rule by flying by private plane to Beaver Creek, an isolated community with around 100 residents. They pretended to be new hires at a local motel so they could get the vaccine at a mobile vaccination center, the Globe and Mail reported, citing court documents. 

The couple were only caught by authorities after they asked to be taken straight to the airport after getting the jab. They were charged with misleading authorities about the vaccine, as well as violating Yukon’s Civil Emergency Measures Act, a spokesman for the territory’s cabinet office told Bloomberg. They were both charged with breaking emergency coronavirus rules and fined 2,300 Canadian dollars ($1,809), CBC reported. 

Baker resigned on Sunday and the Great Canadian Gaming Corp announced his resignation the next day but didn’t mention the charges or give any reason for his departure. 

The company declined to comment when Insider asked whether Baker’s resignation was the result of the violations, but said he is “no longer affiliated in any way with the company.”

Baker had been CEO of the company, which is valued at nearly $2 billion, for a decade. The company, which operates 22 casinos across four Canadian provinces, is also in the midst of a $2 billion deal to be bought by the hedge fund Apollo Global Management. 

Read more: The MyPillow guy says God helped him beat a crack addiction to build a multimillion-dollar empire. Now his religious devotion to Trump threatens to bring it all crashing down.

“[The couple] put our community at risk,” John Streicker, Yukon’s community services minister, told Global News Canada.

“Great Canadian’s board of directors has no tolerance for actions that run counter to the company’s objectives and values,” it told Insider.

“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,” it added.

“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.”

As of Monday afternoon, Yukon had administered 3,952 COVID-19 vaccines doses. The territory has no active cases of the virus, and has only recorded one death over the course of the pandemic. British Colombia, where the couple lives, has 4,392 active cases.

Baker isn’t the first CEO to come under fire during the pandemic. In October, a report by Semler Brossy Consulting Group found that big businesses have been protecting their executives’ pay during the pandemic by rewriting bonus plans and changing performance targets, including writing off worst-performing months.

But not all business leaders have taken this approach. Some temporarily forfeited their paychecks amid the pandemic, including the cofounders of Lyft, executives at Airbnb, and the CEO of Marriott. Disney’s Executive Chairman Bob Iger gave up his salary for 2020, while the top five Comcast executives donated theirs to charity.

And executives at Pfizer, the US drugmaker who developed the first coronavirus vaccine used in the west, have said they’ll wait their turn to get a shot.

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